Chairman of the Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura) Sheikh Muhammad Bin Jubair stated yesterday at a press conference in London that his visit to the United Kingdom has nothing to do with politics, but reciprocates the March visit to Saudi Arabia by a British parliamentary delegation.
Explaining the Islamic concept of “shura”, or consultation, and its application in Saudi Arabia, he pointed out that the Consultative Council has been in existence for seventy years, accomplishing a great deal in the economic and social development of the Kingdom, and that the modifications made and new regulations issued [in 1992] were designed to make the council more contemporary. Pointing out that Prophet Muhammad and his companions practiced the principle of shura, he observed: “While many countries were only able to establish parliaments after revolutions and a lot of bloodshed, Islamic shari’a (law) has confirmed the principle of shura without this”. Asked if shura council members would in the future be elected, he said this was unlikely, since it might not provide the same level of expertise available in the current Council whose 61 members include 35 Ph.D. holders. Asked if the shura council holds press conferences, he said that it issues statements following each meeting to announce what has been discussed and approved, but that journalists can come to the council to ask whatever they like, and council news is published in the Arabic press in the Kingdom. He added that anyone who has an opinion on reforming current systems in Saudi Arabia can submit this opinion to the shura council where a specialized committee will study it and submit it to the council if it is deemed constructive, and pointed out that a quorum of ten people can make a proposal to cancel or amend a system or to promote a new system instead.
Asked about foreign forces in Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Bin Jubair said: “We have experts and instructors for the Saudi armed forces, especially the air force. The foreign forces which came during the war for the liberation of Kuwait have returned to their respective countries.” As for the Al-Khobar explosion, he said that terrorist blasts can happen anywhere in the world.
In answer to questions about the Saudi budget and unemployment in the Kingdom, he said the budget is well-known to anybody who follows the affairs of Saudi Arabia, adding that there is nothing wrong with having a deficit, and stressed that Saudi Arabia does not really suffer from an unemployment problem, only the question of university graduates who wish to work in the same areas they come from, although work is available for them in many areas around the country.
Asked about women in Saudi Arabia, he said that women are consulted, and have more respect in the Kingdom than in many areas around the world, pointing out that the 120,000 women working in the Saudi civil service sectors such as education, health and social work, earn the same salaries as men. He added that there are also women in the media, working as journalists.