The delegation of the Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura) that is currently visiting the United Kingdom held a press conference in London yesterday for Arab journalists, who were briefed by head of the delegation, Dr. Salih Al-Omeir, on meetings carried out during the visit, such as at the British Foreign Office, the House of Commons, and the House of Lords. He expressed satisfaction over the meetings, notably that with academicians, diplomats and Middle East specialists at the Royal British Institute for International Affairs.
Dr. Salih Al-Malik commented that the Kingdom had known the concept of consultative councils since the era of its founder King Abdulaziz, the first being established in 1926. Now, he said, the Council has 120 members, 75 percent of them holders of doctorate degrees, who are appointed by the King.
On the role of Saudi women, Dr. Al-Omeir declared that the Kingdom's laws and regulations do not impose restrictions on women, and although Shura membership is currently confined to men, women are able to play a role in the Council. He refuted allegations that Islam views women as inferior, and regretted misunderstandings on this. Dr. Al-Malik agreed that there is the opportunity for Saudi women to make positive contributions to decision-making at the Shura Council through the ladies’ committee, which was formed recently precisely to benefit from the experience of women in women’s affairs. He added that the issue of Saudi women participating fully in the Shura Council – and also in the proposed municipal elections - is under study, and a decision is not far off. Dr. Abdullah Bukhari added his comment, that Saudi women are not marginalized, but on the contrary, work as doctors, teachers, administrators, and investors.