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Conservative Saudi Arabia Inducts Women In Decision-Making Body

Ensuring greater participation for women in decision-making, conservative Saudi Arabia for the first time on Tuesday inducted 30 women in the 150-member Shoura Council that advises the government on various social, economic and political issues, international relations, draft laws and bilateral agreements.

Even though the decision to appoint women to the Council was announced in 2011, their names were made public only last month. The reconstituted Council will hold its first meeting on February 24, the Arab News reported.

Saudi Arabia, land of Islam's two holiest places of worship, had amended two articles of the Shoura Law last month, introducing 20 percent reservation for women in the Shoura Council through a royal decree.

Administering oath of office to the female members along with their male counterparts in capital Riyadh, King Abdullah urged them to carry out the job with responsibility.

He asked the Council to take decisions after thorough discussions without any haste. "We are seeking gradual development without any (outside) pressure," he added.

Reminding the Council members that they represent the various groups of Saudi society, the King told them to discuss all issues and topics with responsibility by applying intelligence and expertise. The government was looking for sound decisions from the Council, he said and told them that their membership in the body was a responsibility rather than an honor.

Shoura President Abdullah Al-Asheikh commended King Abdullah for his support to expand the Council. Riyadh new Governor Prince Khaled bin Bandar and his deputy Prince Turki bin Abdullah also took oath of office before the King, ruler of the world's biggest oil exporting country.

by RTT Staff Writer

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