Jafria Community's Voice
According a Reuters report, Saudi royals took some $2 billion of the national income in 1996, while they as well as others closely associated with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz, now spend $10 billion of the country’s earnings annually for personal expenses.
Also, it has already been revealed that revenues from the sale of one million barrels of oil per day go to only five or six Saudi princes.
Documents show the better part of national spending in Saudi Arabia over the past two decades has been allocated to the royal family.
One such document reads that Saudi royals, who number in the thousands, are known to possess great wealth and spend lavishly.
Monthly salaries given to the members of the royal family range from $270,000 per month for senior royals to $800 a month for the most junior members , reports Reuters. The figures do not include the expenses for wedding ceremonies and building palaces.
The same report suggests that five percent of Saudi Arabia’s $40 billion overall budget for 1996, that is $2 billion, was earmarked for salaries of the royal family.
This comes as many senior officials and royals in Saudi Arabia have gone into business, pocketing upwards of $10 billion dollars besides their regular salaries.
Some Saudi royals have even confiscated public land to sell to the Saudi government.
There are four main opposition groups in Saudi Arabia. There are the Hijaz tribes that have complained the Al-Saud family has even named the country after itself, excluding other tribes and groups from the government. Then there are the reformist technocrats and the youth, who would like to see a constitution as well as elections incorporated into the Saudi system of monarchy.
The thrid group that opposes the monarchy are mainly the reformist Salafis, and the fourth major group are the Shias, who mainly occupy the oil-rich eastern part of the country but are the most oppressed in the country.
In a statement released by state news agency SPA on Sunday, the Council of Senior Scholars said, “reform and advice do not take place through demonstrations and methods that fan sedition.”
The reaction of the 10-man council, headed by the mufti of Saudi Arabia, comes against the backdrop of growing calls on the Internet for massive anti-government protests planned for March 11 and 20 to demand change in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
A group of Saudi youths has posted a message on Facebook, calling for a “Saudi Revolution” on March 20 to demand democratic and political reform in the monarchy.
The Facebook group, which has over 17,000 members, also called for a “Day of Rage” rally on March 11. Tens of thousands of Saudis have already joined the drive.
“The council stresses that demonstrations are prohibited in this country, and that the Islamic way of realizing common interest is by offering advice,” the clerics said.
Earlier, Saudi intellectuals and rights activists urged King Abdullah in a statement to “transform the absolute monarchy into a constitutional kingdom.”
However, the council went on to add that “Reform and advice are the Islamic way and would carry benefits and prevent evil, and that does not happen through intimidating and seditious statements on which signatures are collected.”
The council issued a plea to Saudi security officials to “do their job in line with the law of the land” and confront anti-government protests.
The Saudi government on Saturday banned all types of rallies and gatherings and declared that security forces were “authorized by law to take all measures needed against those who try to break the law.”
The decision came in the wake of anti-government demonstrations that were held after the Friday prayers in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and other cities.
Hundreds of Saudi protesters took to the streets in Riyadh for the first time, joining other anti-government protests held in a number of cities across the country while chanting anti-government and anti-corruption slogans.
Witnesses say Saudi security forces in Riyadh detained at least three people that had chanted slogans against the Saudi monarchy.
At the same time, groups of protesters continued their rallies in the towns of al-Hufuf, al-Ahsa, and al-Qatif in the Eastern Province, with demonstrators demanding the release of political prisoners.
In a move to intensify its crackdown on the mass protests planned for next week, the Saudi government has also decided to deploy thousands of anti-riot police to northeastern Saudi Arabia.
Protests and any public displays of dissent are forbidden in the Persian Gulf kingdom. The government has become increasingly anxious about the wave of protests that have swept the Arab world, toppling the Egyptian and Tunisian long-term rulers, and recently gaining intensity in states of Oman, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya.
The detainees, who number around 40, have been beaten before being placed in custody, DPA reported on Sunday.
The women had taken to the streets of the kingdom and demonstrated in front of a government building in Dammam city to object to the imprisonment without trial of their husbands, who have been kept behind bars for at least 15 years.
The kingdom’s Interior Ministry has banned all kinds of demonstrations and public gatherings as and pro-democracy rallies and protests at the incarcerations gain momentum.
Saudi Shias — who comprise 15 percent of the 25,000,000 population — have been staging small protests for about two weeks in the east, Reuters reported.
They have for long protested suppression by the government, whom they say, has been hogging their share of the oil income and banning them from state-run organization.
Last month, a demonstration was held in the oil-producing Eastern province of Qatif against imprisonments.
Saudi youths have, meanwhile, designated March 13th as the ‘Day of Rage’ against the government with thousands of people announcing their preparedness for attending the protests.