FACTBOX-What is Saudi Arabia's Shura Council?

July 15 Tue Jul 15, 2008 4:04pm BST

July 15 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's Shura Council is set to recommend that the government revalue the dollar-pegged riyal as a measure to fight inflation.

Here are some facts about the Shura Council.

* WHAT IS THE COUNCIL?

-- The Shura Council was set up in 1993 as an unelected body to advise the government with members -- originally 60, now 150 -- all appointed by the king.

-- The term "Shura" refers to the "consultation" used to choose leaders of the early Islamic community following the death of the Prophet Mohammad.

* POWERS OF THE COUNCIL:

-- Its powers now include proposing laws for the cabinet to approve, reviewing and amending draft legislation passed its way by cabinet and calling some ministers -- in effect those who are not members of the royal family -- to appear to explain policy.

* SOME REFORMS:

-- King Fahd granted it more powers in November 2003, when the kingdom was under international pressure to reform after the Sept. 11 attacks of 2001 in the United States.

-- Reformers now want the all-male appointed council to be at least partly elected in what would be a revolutionary move for the conservative kingdom towards parliamentary monarchy.

OTHER FACTS:

-- Its speaker, Saleh bin Humaid, is a cleric who sometimes leads prayers in the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Some of its members are religious scholars and most hail from tribes in the central Najd region which is the Saudi royal family's power base.

-- Journalists are not allowed inside the chamber to follow daily debates and television usually only offers coverage if the king delivers a speech there.

-- There are no women members and only two from the minority Shi'ite Muslim community, who many among the traditional Wahabi Sunni clerics regard as heretics. (Writing by Andrew Hammond and David Cutler, London Editorial reference Unit; Editing by Mariam Karouny))

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