The Royal Diwan

Saudi Arabia Table of Contents

The primary executive office of the king is the Royal Diwan. The king's principal advisers for domestic politics, religious affairs, and international relations have offices in the Royal Diwan. The king's private office also is in the Royal Diwan. The king conducts most routine government affairs from this office, including the drafting of regulations and royal decrees. In addition, the heads of several government departments have their offices in the diwan. These include the chief of protocol, the Office of Beduin Affairs; the Department of Religious Research, Missionary Activities, and Guidance; and, as well, the mutawwiin or Committees for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (popularly known as the Committees for Public Morality). The Department of Religious Research, Missionary Activities, and Guidance is headed by the most senior of the country's ulama. In 1992 this person was the blind religious scholar Shaykh Abd al Aziz ibn Baz, who spent much of his time in Medina, where he was in charge of the Prophet's Mosque.

The king also held his regular majlis, or court, in the Royal Diwan. The purpose of the majlis was to provide Saudi citizens an opportunity to make personal appeals to the king for redress of grievances or assistance in private matters. Plaintiffs typically sought the king's intervention with the state's bureaucracy. During the reigns of King Khalid and King Fahd, it was customary for each person attending the majlis to explain his complaints and simultaneously present a written petition, which the monarch would later study and answer in a subsequent session.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress