July 15 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.
-- 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))