Basically, every government is made up of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. This is also the case with Saudi Arabia. The executive is made up of the King who is also the prime minister and other two deputy prime ministers together with the cabinet which is appointed by the king and is composed mainly of members of the royal family. The legislature is simply made up of the Consultative Council which is150 member committee which is headed by a chairman chosen by the king himself. All the other members are also selected by the king but in 2003, it was announced that there were plans to hold elections for half of the membership of the committee as a way of enhancing democracy. The judiciary is represented by the Supreme Council of Justice which makes sure that the law is implemented (Metz, 2004: pp48-53). This paper seeks to analyze Saudi Arabia with special emphasis on the media in general. The paper will describe the role of the media, its freedom, its regulation and many other issues surrounding the Saudi media in general.
Saudi Arabia has evolved over time from being the most pious and inward-looking underdeveloped desert kingdom to become one of the richest countries in the world thanks to the fast oil resource. Actually, 90% of Saudi exports are petroleum and petroleum products. These exports are made to countries such as South Korea, Singapore, China, US, Taiwan and Japan. The petroleum sector in Saudi Arabia claims a massive 80% of the budget revenue, 45% of GDP (albeit 40% of GDP is taken care by the private sector (Metz, 2004: pp48-53).
The country has been under a tight leadership guided by the stringent Sharia law. This law has seen the abuse of human rights as well as abuse of democracy demonstrated by draconian media laws that gag free media. Saudi has once been accused of an authoritarian monarchy well riddled with extremists groups that tries to defy the rule of the monarchs. These extremists have had to organize and execute acts of terrorism as a way of forcing the government to make reforms. The most notable of the terrorist strikes was the 2003 suicide bombings that left more than 30 dead in the capital Riyadh. The suicide bombers were suspected to be linked to the global Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda. The 2003 Riyadh attack has since been named the Saudi's version of September 11. It may be true that the extremists may be calling for a long overdue reform but their approach has missed the point. Nevertheless, the government of Saudi Arabia has had to face the very daunting task of instituting and enacting reform as a result of pressure from both extremists and non extremist groups such as the media (Randall, 1998: pp123-128) as well as combating the ever rising problem of violence from extremist groups.
The ruling monarchy of Saudi Arabia has been passed down the bloodline of the royal family since the 18th century. Hitherto, it has been the wish of the royal family to emancipate Saudi Arabia from militant violence by ensuring stability. They have planned to do this by clearing all the militant or dissident groups. This plan is evident by the welcome gesture to the US troops that have been stationed in Saudi especially after the 1990 Iraq's attack on Kuwait.