Saudi Arabia. The daily life in Saudi Arabia was
characterized by the country's continued poor economy during
the year, caused by the oil price was low in 1998. According
Countryaah official website, the
government announced austerity in the defense, increased the
gasoline price by 50% to $ 0.24 (about SEK 2) per liter and
doubled the cost of renew the work permit that the 6.5
million foreigners working in Saudi Arabia need. In
addition, a body called the Higher Economic Council was
formed with the task of stimulating investment, creating
jobs for Saudi citizens and facilitating the privatization
At a meeting in Riyadh in November, the six Gulf Gulf
Cooperation Council Arab states agreed to establish a
customs union to enter into force in 2005. Negotiations were
particularly difficult between closed Saudi Arabia and the
more free-trade United Arab Emirates.
In October, about twenty women were present for the first
time at a session in the country's parliament, the advisory
body majlis ash-shura. The women in Saudi Arabia
are completely cut off from political life Do not drive or
hold your own ID card.
In early December, a Pakistani convicted of murder was
executed. So far during the year, 102 people had been
executed, compared with 29 throughout 1998. Saudi Arabia's
Sheikh died in May 87 years old. Through a royal decree,
Sheikh Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd Allah ash-Shaykh was appointed a
new great Mufti. King Fahd's eldest son died in August of a
heart attack. However, he was not a follower of the throne.
Saudi Arabia was severely affected during the year by
this year's drought in the Middle East.
In August, the government announced that the municipal
elections would be held in early November. The election was
the first step towards democracy since the Saud family had
introduced monopoly in the country 70 years earlier. The
first phase of the election would consist of elections to
180 municipal councils in Riyadh and would be initiated
after the end of the Muslim fasting month, Ramadan. The
elections would take place in the other parts of the country
in the months that followed. Only in the southern and
eastern part of the country before Haj in mid-January 2005.
At this time, no age for voting or voting rights had yet
been set, and the position of women was still not entirely
Foreign journalists have stated that the Saudi government
promoted the process of democratization under pressure from
the United States - after decades of superpower defending
the monarchy of the country. For the opposition that
demanded general elections, the municipal elections were
just a small opening on the part of the regime. It continued
its criticism of unemployment, corruption and lack of
freedom of expression.
In December 2004, at least 7 people died during an attack
on the United States Consulate in Jeddah in the western part
of the country. 4 of these were Saudi guards guarding the
consulate. In January 2005, two major explosions took place
when suspected al-Qaeda activists attacked the Interior
Ministry in Riyadh.
In February 2005, the planned municipal elections were
carried out - without female participation. Women still have
no voting rights.
After King Fahd died in August, Crown Prince Abdullah was
inaugurated as new king, prime minister and sultan. He
appointed the Minister of Defense as his Crown Prince.
After 12 years of negotiations, Saudi Arabia became a
member of the WTO in November in November. Industry and
Trade Minister Hashim Yamani declared that it was "a
highlight of economic and structural reforms that Saudi
Arabia has initiated".