Saudi Arabia marks King Abdullah’s 8th year on the throne

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made great strides on the social and economic levels since King Abdullah’s rise to the throne eight years ago.

King Abdullah, also known as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, came into power on August 1, 2005 following the death of his half-brother, King Fahd. However, the kingdom celebrated his 8-year reign on Monday, which marked the king’s anniversary according to the Hijri Islamic calendar.

King Abdullah had implemented a number of reforms this year, including allowing women for the first time to take part in the Shura Council. His decree to allow 30 women to take seats in Saudi Arabia’s ruling body marked a breakthrough in the country.

Also, the king introduced municipal elections for the first time in 2005, granting women the right to vote as well as run as candidates in the next local elections, scheduled to take place in 2015.

King Abdullah was quoted by the media as saying: “We refuse to marginalize women’s role in Saudi society.”

Thuraya al-Arrayed, an education specialist, who was appointed by the king as a Shura Council member, told Al Arabiya in an interview earlier this year that the royal decree “gave confidence to women to take part in important decision-making matters in the country.”

“We are not here to represent ourselves but to represent the public, women and men alike.”

Meanwhile, Al Arabiya reported on Monday that the Ministry of Civil Service was able to help around 300,000 young people, 37 percent of whom were women, find jobs and reduce the unemployment rate.

The report also said that King Abdullah established a number of economic cities, including King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Mousaed Economic City in Hael, Jazan Economic City and Media Knowledge Economic City.

During the king’s reign, there have been improvements in the field of health, to which he allocated more than 12 billion riyals ($3,2 billion), and laid the foundation for 127 health projects.