Saudi Arabia controls more than 20 percent of the world’s oil reserves and, as the world’s leading oil producer and exporter, plays a dominant role in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Oil revenues account for about 90 percent of export earnings and about 80 percent of government revenues.
In September 2011, the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy signed a contract with the U.S. Department of State to begin an 18-month project to assist in the ongoing effort by Saudi Arabia to remove discriminatory content from its public school curriculums and to evaluate its global impact in other Muslim-majority countries.
There are no secular schools in Saudi Arabia; its public education system is designed to engender a deep Islamic faith in students using a rigid religious and social science curriculum, developed and disseminated under the watchful eye of the Salafist Ulama.
Detainees, including children, commonly face systematic violations of due process and fair trial rights, including arbitrary arrest and torture and ill-treatment in detention. Saudi judges routinely sentence defendants to thousands of lashes.
Over 8 million migrant workers fill manual, clerical, and service jobs, constituting more than half the national workforce. Many suffer multiple abuses and labor exploitation, sometimes amounting to slavery-like conditions.
Saudi Arabia’s economic freedom score is 62.5, making its economy the 74th freest in the 2012 Index.
Saudi Arabia is a key ally of the US and European countries. The US failed to publicly criticize Saudi human rights violations or its role in putting down pro-democracy protests in neighboring Bahrain. US President Barack Obama failed to mention Saudi Arabia in a major speech on the Arab uprisings and continued to pursue a $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, the biggest-ever US arms sale.
Islamic law is the basis of the authority of the monarchy and provides the foundation of the country's conservative customs and social practices.
The kingdom is divided into 13 provinces governed by princes or close relatives of the royal family. All governors are appointed by the king.
This council consists of the king (as prime minister), the first and second deputy prime ministers, 20 ministers, two ministers of state, and a small number of advisers and heads of major autonomous organizations.
Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by a king chosen from and by members of the Al Saud family. The king rules through royal decrees issued in conjunction with the Council of Ministers, and with advice from the Consultative Council.