Saudi Arabia

Saudi woman posing inside the Qasr al-Bint tombs complex, while campaigning for the right to drive

Young people in Saudi Arabia face one of the most repressive media environments in the Arab World. Censorship is rife and the press is state-dominated. Internet is restricted. The government has cracked down on activists calling for political reform and improved human rights, including women’s rights.

Facts

  • Population: 28.7m
  • Official language: Arabic
  • Freedom of the Press score: not free (score 84)

Politics

  • Kingdom, Al Saud dynasty is in power, political parties are not permitted, rentier state (no taxation- no representation)
  • In 2013, King appointed 30 women to the previously all male Shura council
  • One of the main players in the Arabic world, ally of US in the region

Social/Economic

  • One of the wealthiest countries in the region due to oil resources (25% of the world’s reserves)
  • Civil society movements for more democracy are repressed, limited rights for women
  • Growing influence of Al Qaida, militant attacks on foreign labourers, many immigrant workers with limited rights

Media

  • Very repressive media environment; press law prohibits any reporting that may lead to disunity or sedition, female journalists are allowed to report only on issues related to family, women and children
  • 44% of the population is online, social media challenge the severe restrictions, there are about 10.000 active bloggers
  • Strict internet filtering prohibits access to political, anti-Islam, human rights and sexual rights sites

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