The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose government has not changed since its founding in 1932, appears to be reacting to the winds of change blowing throughout the Arab Middle East. For the first time, a political party has been established – and though it has not yet received official government approval, it has asked King Abdullah for such.
The kingdom revolves politically around the royal Al-Saud family in many ways: The head of government and chief of state is King and Prime Minister Abdallah bin Abd al-Aziz Al-Saud; next in line to become king is Deputy Prime Minister and Crown Prince Sultan bin Abd al-Aziz Al-Saud, his half-brother; and the Second Deputy Prime Minister is Nayif bin Abd Al-Aziz Al-Saud, another half-brother of the king.
The design of the national flag is closely associated with the Al-Saud family, and the national anthem is Aash Al Maleek, meaning "Long Live Our Beloved King." In 1992, Saudi Arabia’s first constitution was presented, specifying that it is an absolute monarchy ruled by the descendants of Abdel Aziz ibn-Saud according to the Koran and Islamic law (sharia).
The only non-Islamic national holiday is September 23, which marks the unification of the kingdom in 1932.
The new party is named the Islamic Nation Party, and is supported by lawyers, businessmen, lecturers and political activists identified with the Islamic Movement. In their request for recognition, they noted that they will work for political reform and human rights, and stated that the “regime need not fear the democratic spirit overtaking the Arab world.”
Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet of Ministers is appointed by the monarch every four years and includes many royal family members. There are no elections, though a committee of Saudi princes was established in 2006 to play an unspecified role in selecting future kings; the system will not take effect until after Crown Prince Sultan becomes king.
In addition, a Consultative Council exists, with 150 members and a chairman appointed by the monarch to serve four-year terms; the Council of Ministers announced in 2003 its intention to hold elections for some of the Consultative Council, though no such elections have ever been held. Municipal elections were held in 2005 in some cities.