Saudi Arabia 2019
Saudi Arabia. The trial of the people accused of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi during his visit to the Saudi embassy in Istanbul last year began in early January. The prosecutor requested the death penalty for five of the eleven defendants. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the defendants violated their powers when, during a hearing, they killed Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia has previously rejected Turkey’s request for 18 suspects to be extradited and instead tried before the Turkish court. Even at the end of the year, the remaining remains were not found after the Saudi free thinker.
In June, evidence emerged that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and others highly regarded were responsible for the Khashoggi assassination. UN reporter Agn豕s Callamard said the murder should be investigated by an independent international commission. In connection with the anniversary of Khashoggi’s murder in early October 2019, the Saudi Crown Prince was interviewed. He then said that he takes responsibility for the incident because it happened “at his guard”. However, he regrets that it was not he who ordered the murder. According to Turkish intelligence sources, the murder was not an accident, as previously claimed. For that reason, human rights organizations repeated their demands for a UN-led investigation.
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Sharp criticism of Saudi Arabia was addressed several times during the year by the UN Human Rights Council. In March, condemnation came from 36 countries, including several European countries and Australia, Canada and New Zealand, on human rights violations, especially women’s rights. In April, mass executions were carried out on 37 people convicted of hostile activities, by the country’s Ministry of the Interior called terror-related crimes. One of those executed was the young Saudi Mujtiba al-Sweikat, who was arrested in 2012 when, as a 17-year-old, he was on his way to the United States for study. He was accused of planning and participating in hostile protests in connection with the Arab Spring of 2011. After six years in prison, he was executed on April 23. In the first four months of the year alone, at least 100 people had been executed in Saudi Arabia;
Regarding women’s rights, it was decided in August that women over the age of 21 should continue to be able to apply for a passport and make a trip without the approval of their male guardian. Under the new regulations, via a royal decree, it will also be easier for women to work, among other things, and to be entitled to the custody of children. However, permission from the male guardian still applies if one wants to marry or move away from home, and many female activists who demanded to have the guardianship suspended or demanded the right to a driver’s license (before that right came in June last year) are still awaiting trial.
Another relief that came during the year was the release of the requirement in December with separate entrances for men and women to restaurants and cafes. It is not clear from the decision whether the ban on gender segregation within restaurants was also lifted. However, it is still prohibited for women and men who do not know each other to be together in other public places, for example in schools and hospitals.
In September, a drone attack was carried out against Saudi oil facilities. Two sites northeast of the capital Riyadh, owned by the world’s largest oil company Saudi Aramco, were attacked. The Iran-backed huthirbeles in Yemen took on the deed, but probably Iran itself was behind the attack. A few days after the attack, gasoline prices were raised by 15 cents. This did not prevent Saudi Aramco from being listed on the stock exchange in November. This became the largest stock exchange listing in world history, with the total valuation expected to be $ 1,700 billion. This corresponds to 50% more than the total market capitalization of the US giants Apple and Microsoft.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Saudi Arabia in 2019 was 34,268,417, ranking number 41 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.680% yearly, and the population density was 15.9412 people per km2.