How government works

This section introduces the Organizational Structure of the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the basic laws of governance that go hand in hand with it, providing insight into the working mechanisms and cooperative measures of performing the necessary functions. It also provides knowledge into the Executive Authority and how the different aspects of that authority work together in harmony, in addition to shedding light on the Judiciary Authority and its internal courts, and the Regulatory Authority, specifically known as the Shura Council.

The Organizational Structure for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Government

Basic Law of Governance

Monarchy is the system of rule in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Rulers of the country shall be from amongst the sons of the founder King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Faisal Al-Saud, and their descendants. The most upright among them shall receive allegiance according to Almighty God's Book and His Messenger's Sunna (Traditions).

The Crown Prince is appointed by the King. The Crown Prince shall devote himself exclusively to his duties as Crown Prince and shall perform any other duties delegated to him by the King. Upon the death of the King, the Crown Prince shall assume the Royal powers until a pledge of allegiance (bay'a) is given.

The authorities in the Kingdom consist of the judiciary, the executive, and the regulatory authority. These authorities shall cooperate in the performance of their duties, and the King is the reference point for these authorities.

The Executive Authority

Council of Ministers

The Council of Ministers shall have the power to set the internal, foreign, financial, economic, educational, and defense policies as well as the general affairs of the State, and shall oversee their implementation; and it shall review Shura Council resolutions. It shall have the executive authority and be the final authority in the financial and administrative affairs of all ministries and other government agencies.
The King is the President of the Council of Ministers, and he is supported by Council’s members. Deputies of Prime Minister and Members of the Council of Ministers shall be appointed by the King, and relieved from office by royal order. The King is entitled to dissolve and reconstitute the Council of Ministers
A member of the Council of Ministers shall:

  • Be a Saudi national by descent and upbringing
  • Be well known for being upright and competent
  • Not have been convicted of a crime impinging on religion or honor.

The term of the Council of Ministers shall not exceed four years, during which a new Council shall be reconstituted by royal order. If the term expires before the reconstitution of the new Council, the current Council shall continue performing its duties until the new one is reconstituted.
The Council of Ministers shall be composed of the following:

  • President of the Council of Ministers
  • Deputies of the President of the Council of Ministers
  • Ministers with portfolios
  • Ministers of State appointed as members of the Council of Ministers by royal order
  • Counselors to the King, who are appointed as members of the Council of Ministers by royal order.

The Council, being the direct executive authority, shall have full power over all executive and administrative affairs. The following shall be included in its executive powers:

  • Monitoring the implementation of laws, regulations, and resolutions
  • Establishing and organizing public institutions
  • Overseeing the implementation of the general development plan; and
    Forming committees to review the performance of ministries and other government agencies or in relation to any specific case. Such committees shall submit their findings at a time set by the Council. The Council shall review such findings and may accordingly form investigative committees to decide on such findings, in accordance with laws and regulations.

The administrative structure of the Council of Ministers shall be composed of the following agencies:

How the Executive Authority Works?

The King, as President of the Council of Ministers, shall direct the State’s public policy; ensure guidance, coordination, and cooperation among the various government agencies; ensure harmony, continuity, and unity in all functions of the Council of Ministers. A minister shall be in charge of his ministry and shall be the final authority in managing its affairs. Meetings of the Council of Ministers are presided over by the President of the Council of Ministers (the King), or one of his deputies. The resolutions of the Council of Ministers shall become final upon the King’s approval.
A meeting of the Council of Ministers shall not be valid unless attended by two-thirds of its members. Resolutions shall not be valid unless passed by a majority of the members present. In case of a tie, the President shall have the casting vote. In extraordinary cases, Council meetings may be considered valid with half of the members present. In such cases, resolutions shall not be considered valid without the approval of two-thirds of the members present. The President of the Council of Ministers shall determine such cases.
All decrees shall be published in the Official Gazette and shall enter into force on the date of publication unless another date is stipulated. Visit this page for the Saudi Ministries.

Political and Security Affairs Council

The council is responsible for the political and security matters of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Council’s Members:

Member Position
Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud The Crown Prince
Prince Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz Minister of Interior
Adel bin ahmed al-jubeir Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud Minister of Foreign Affairs
His Excellency Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi Minister of Media
Khalid bin Ali Al Humaidan Head of General Intelligence Presidency
Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Al-howairini Head of Presidency of State Security
Dr.Musaad bin Mohammed Al Aiban National Security Advisor

Economical and Development Affairs Council

Economical and Development Affairs Council is concerned with the economic and developmental issues, in addition to coordinating them in a way that helps the state to unify its orientations in all matters relating to economy and development.

The Council’s Members:

Member Position
Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud Crown Prince - Chairman of the Council
His Excellency Walid bin Mohammed Al Samani Minister of Justice
His Excellency His Royal Highness Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud Minister of Energy
His Excellency Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan Minister of Finance
His Excellency Dr. Tawfig bin Fawzan AlRabiah Minister of Health
His Excellency Mr. Faisal bin Fadel bin Mohsen Al-Ibrahim Minister of Economy and Planning
His Excellency Majed bin Abdullah Al-Hogail Minister of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing
His Excellency Dr. Essam bin Saad bin Saeed Minister of Hajj and Umrah
His Excellency Ahmad Sulaiman ALRajhi Minister of Human Resource and Social Development
His Excellency Khalid Abulaziz Al-Falih Minister of Investment
His Excellency Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser Minister of Transport
His Excellency Eng. Abdullah Amer Al-Swaha Minister of Communication and Information Technology
His Excellency Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi Minister of Media
His Excellency Abdulrahman Abdulmohsen A. AlFadley Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture
His Excellency Hamad bin Mohammed Al Al-Sheikh Minister of Education
Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah Al Saud Minister of Foreign Affairs
Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud Minister of Culture
His Excellency Ahmed Aqeel Al-Khateeb Minister of Tourism

The Judiciary Authority

The Judiciary is an independent authority. The decisions of judges shall not be subject to any authority other than the authority of the Islamic Sharia.

Supreme Judicial Council is constituted by a President appointed by a royal decree, and ten members as follows:

  • The President of the Supreme Courte
  • Four Full-time Judges, with the rank of Appellate Court President, shall be appointed by a royal decree.
  • Vice President of Minister of Justice
  • Head of Investigation and Prosecution Circuit
  • Three members meet the requirements for the position of appellate court president appointed by royal decree. The term for the President, the four judges and the other three members is four years renewable

The Supreme Judicial Council is responsible for:

  • Looking into the functional affairs of judges: appointment, promotion, discipline, delegation, secondment, training, transfer, authorization, termination, etc.
  • Issuing regulations related to judges ’functional affairs upon the King’s approval.
  • Issuing a list for judicial inspection.
  • Establishing courts according to the names stipulated in Article 9 of Law of the Judiciary, merging or canceling them, determining their competence and venue competence, and creating circuits therein.
  • Overseeing courts and judges and their work within the limits set forth in this bylaw.
  • Nominating the presidents of Appellate Courts and their assistants from among the judges of Appellate Courts, presidents of courts of first instance and their assistants.
  • Issuing rules that regulate the competencies and powers of court presidents and their assistants.
  • Issuing rules indicating the method for selecting judges, and the procedures and regulations for their study leave.
  • Organizing duties of Assistant Judges.
  • Determine the corresponding judicial work required to fill the judicial ranks.
  • Presenting whatever proposals he deems related to the specializations assigned to him.
  • Preparing a comprehensive report at the end of each year that includes the achievements, obstacles and his proposals in this regard, and submitting it to the King.


The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is classified at the top of the judicial organization to receive a complaint against the court that issued the impugned decision and is not a party to separate litigation. Its main role is to review Hudud cases (murder, amputation, stoning, or legal retribution and what is less than killing) It reviews the decisions in terms of the correct application of the rules Islamic rules and regulations and its, their interpretation, as well as in terms of the procedures followed in the trial, without having anything to do with portraying the facts or assessing the evidence.

Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court

Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is limited to four cases, which are:

First case: Review hudud cases such as murder, amputation, stoning, or legal retribution and what is less than killing. The Court, in this case, works as a subject court and not a court of enforcing regulations.

Second case: Oversee judgments issued by the appellate courts regarding:

  • Violating the provisions of Sharia law and the regulations issued by the legal Guardian that do not violate the Islamic Laws.
  • The decision was issued by a court that was not properly formed, in accordance with the provisions of the law.
  • The court was issued by a non-competent circuit.
  • An error in conditioning or incorrectly describing the incident In this case, the Supreme Court is a court of application, not a trial court.

Third case: Examining requests to resume the litigation after canceling the case for the second time after the plaintiff’s absence from the hearings with an excuse acceptable to the Court.

Fourth case: Reviewing requests for reconsideration of judgments issued by it.

Appellate Courts

The Courts of Appeal shall review the judgments issued by the courts of First instance, after hearing the litigants' statements, in accordance with the Shari’ah Procedure Law and Law of Criminal Procedure.

Jurisdiction of Appellate Courts

Resolute requests seeking reconsideration of judgments issued by it.

First Instance Courts

Jurisdiction of First Instance Courts


The jurisdiction rules are adopted between the courts of First instance on the basis of the type of case, that is, the nature of the dispute whether it is commercial, personal status, urgent matters, etc., regardless of the value of the case.

Venue competence

The relevant court specializes in the disputes that occur in its circuit.

Types of First Instance Courts:

  • General Courts
  • Criminal Courts
  • Personal Status Courts
  • Labor Courts
  • Commercial Courts

Enforcement Courts

Courts that resolute execution disputes regardless of their value. It consists of specialized circuits, and each circuit includes one or more judges. It also has the power of compulsory enforcement and supervision over it.

Jurisdiction of Enforcement Courts

They are specialized in enforcing the following:

  1. Judgments, decisions and orders issued by the courts.
  2. The arbitrators' provisions attached to the execution order according to the Arbitration Law.
  3. Reconciliation records issued by the authorities authorized to do so.
  4. Negotiable instrument
  5. Notarized contracts and documents
  6. Judgments, court judgement, decisions of arbitrators, and authenticated instruments in a foreign country
  7. Ordinary instruments whose content is fully or partially recognized.
  8. Contracts and other instruments that have executive titles under the Law.


To be appointed as a judge, the candidate shall fulfill the following requirements:

  • He shall be a Saudi national by descent.
  • He shall be of good character and conduct.
  • He shall be fully qualified to hold position of judge in accordance with the Shari’ah provisions.
  • He shall hold the degree of one of the Shari’ah colleges in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or any equivalent certificate, provided that, in latter case, he shall pass a special examination to be prepared by the Ministry of Justice.
  • He shall not be less than forty years.
  • He shall not have been sentenced to a hadd(‘Qur’anic prescribed punishment’) or a ta’zir(‘discretionary punishment’) or for a crime affecting honor, or punished by disciplinary action dismissing him from a public office, even though he may have been rehabilitated.

The Regulatory Authority

Shura Council

The Shura Council consists of a president and sixty members appointed by the King, including people of knowledge, experience and competence. Members' rights, duties, and all their affairs are determined by a royal order. Please, visit this page to read the organizational structure for the Shura Council.

A member of the Council of Ministers shall:

  • be a Saudi national by descent and upbringing
  • be well known for being upright and competent
  • not be less than 30 years.

According to Article 3 (changed), women representation in Shura Council shall not be less than 20% and might be increased.
The term of Shura Council is 4 Hijri years start upon the Royal Decree of its formation. The new Council shall be formed two months at least prior to the end of the current one. In case the term of the current one ends without new formation, the previous one shall carry its responsibilities till the new one is formed. It shall be taken into consideration that the new Councill shall consist of new members who will occupy 50% of the seats, at least.

The Shura Council expresses its opinion on the general policies of the state that are referred to it by the Prime Minister, and in particular it has the following:

  • Discussing and giving opinions about the General Economic and Social plan.
  • Reviewing regulations and bylaws, international treaties and agreements, and concessions, and giving recommendations.
  • Discussing the annual statements presented by ministries and other government agencies, and giving recommendations.

Decisions made by the Shura Council shall be submitted to the President of the Council of Ministers who shall refer them to the Council of Ministers for reviewing. In case that both Councils agree upon the same points, the King shall issue his approval. In case of disagreement, the King shall decide.

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