[Kawthar Al-Arbash, Mody AlKhalaf and Leena K. Almaeena all named as new members of Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council by King Salman on Friday. (Photo: Al Arabiya) ]
Riyadh: Saudi King Salman on Friday nominated 150 members to the Shoura Council, among them are 29 women. Headed by Speaker, the Shoura Council has the power to propose laws to the King and the Cabinet.
Out of the 29, the majority hold doctorate degrees and held positions in universities and civil societies across many different fields.
Of the new appointments, Leena K. Almaeena was among the youngest members to be named as a member by royal decree.
Leena is a member of the Young Saudi Business Committee and Sports Investment Committee in the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce, and the Kingdom Young Business Women Council. She was listed as one of the 200 Most Powerful Women in the Middle East by Forbes Magazine 2014.
Also appointed as a member was Mody AlKhalaf, a former Saudi diplomat based in Washington D.C. considered the first woman to hold such post in the country’s political history.
Saudi writer and journalist Kawthar Al-Arbash will also join the Kingdom’s consultative body. She is the mother of a Saudi son who was killed while preventing a Daesh suicide bomber from attacking a mosque in Dammam last year.
The Shoura Council is permitted to propose draft laws and forward them to the King. The Council has the power to interpret laws, as well as examine annual reports referred to it by state ministries and agencies. It can also advise the King on policies.
The Council is also authorized to review the country’s annual budget, and call in ministers for questioning.
The first Council was founded by King Abdulaziz on Jan. 13 1926. However, the complete institutionalization of the Council was finalized in 1932. Later, it was expanded to include 25 members at the beginning of King Saud’s reign, according to Saudi Gazette.
King Fahd decreed a new Shoura Council Law on Nov. 24, 2000, which replaced the previous law that had been effective since 1928. The first term Council (1993–1997) had a speaker and 60 members. The membership was increased by 30 in each of the following terms.
In January 2013, King Abdullah issued two royal decrees, granting women 30 seats on the Council, and stating that women must always hold at least a fifth of the seats on the Council.
According to the decrees, the female council members must be “committed to Islamic Shariah disciplines without any violations.”
The decrees also said that the female Council members would be entering the Council building from special gates, sit in seats reserved for women and pray in special worshipping places.