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Security in Saudi Arabia



Saudi Arabia SecuritySaudi Arabia Ministry of InteriorSaudi Arabia Security

Area and Location  Government  Saud Dynasty  Holy Places
Culture  Tourism Main Cities

Before the Saudi era, a state of anarchy and lawlessness prevailed in the Arabian peninsula. Its numerous tribes were locked in a vicious circle of attacks and counter-attacks. There was no state as such, only feuding tribes. This dark picture has changed completely since King Abdul Aziz unified the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. "The country has become an example of stability and security. King Abdul Aziz Al Saud said: This country will not prosper in the absence of security. Therefore, I call on all citizens to abide by the law and refrain from destabilizing the country by pursuing their desires and whims."

Since King Abdul Aziz focused attention on security, his sons have followed his policy by improving the security organs in a way compatible with the spirit of the age. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has adopted Islamic Shariah in all its dealings, applying Shariah provisions to the economic, social and judicial spheres. The stability being enjoyed by the Kingdom is a direct result of these efficient security measures, and the just and firm application of Shariah laws. Moreover, the Saudi citizen - being conscious of the prosperity and high standard of living he is enjoying - shies away from violence and disturbances that will adversely affect his way of life. A third factor is the Kingdom's foreign policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of others joined to its enormous expenditure on foreign aid to Arab and Islamic states. Furthermore, the Kingdom's spiritual role, as well as the efforts exerted to reconstruct the Two Holy Mosques and to ensure the safety of pilgrims, enhance the sense of security the visitor feels on arrival. These measures have firmly established stability in the Kingdom while anarchy may reign in other parts of the region.

The internal Security Forces are controlled by the Ministry of Interior, which was founded in various stages: On 29-8-1926 (21-2-1345H), the Public Prosecution Bureau was set up, with internal affairs and public security falling under its jurisdiction. On 30-20-1931 (19-8-1350 H) the Deputies System was issued and the Public Prosecution Bureau was replaced by the Ministry of Interior. What remained of the Bureau was divided into two departments: one was affiliated to the Ministry of Interior and the other to the Presidency of the Council of Deputies. The Ministry of Interior was made responsible for the Departments of Health, Education, Post and Telegraph, the administrative organs of the Shariah Courts and Police, the Municipalities and Endowments. In 1934 (1353 H), the powers of the Ministry of Interior were incorporated into those of the council of Deputies. In 1951 (1370 H) the Ministry was reorganized to include the following: The Governorates, Endowments, the General Bureau of Investigation, the Public Security, the Border Guard, the Coast Guard, the Ports, the Municipalities, the Civil Defense, the Internal Security Forces College and the Mujahideen Department.

Presently, the Ministry of Interior is comprised of the following: 

  1. HRH the Minister
  2. HRH the Vice-Minister
  3. The Ministry's General Office, under the Deputy Minister.
  4. The Governorates.
  5. The Civil Status Department
  6. The Public Security Department.
  7. The Border Guards General Directorate.
  8. The Civil Defense General Directorate.
  9. The General Passports Directorate.
  10. The General Investigation Directorate.
  11. The General Mujahideen Department
  12. The King Fahd Security College and Institutes.
  13. The Special Security Forces.
  14. The Installations Guard Forces.
  15. The Medical Services General Department.

The objectives of the Ministry of Interior in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia emanate from the general objectives of the State, namely the preservation of the interests of Islamic Shariah, which safeguards life, religion, honor, money and the mind. The Ministry of Interior is responsible for establishing internal security and ensuring stability for the citizens and residents of the Kingdom. The regulations have stipulated that the protection of completed development, State property and public rights is the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior. Other responsibilities include protection of antiquities and archeological sites. The Ministry also preserves the country's forests, organizes grazing and protects public utilities. Also falling under its jurisdiction are real estate ownership arrangements, hunting rules, housing plans, development policy and assistance during natural calamities and epidemics. It also oversees implementation of health insurance policy, land control and State property protection. The Ministry also distributes land plots, determining their class and price.

Despite the Kingdom's enormous area (some 2.5 million square kilometers), scores of small communities of less than 100 inhabitants and the considerable number of cities with a population of more than one million each, the Ministry has compiled impressive data about these villages and hamlets, determining their growth potential. This information has been made available to experts charting the Kingdom's development.

The Ministry of Interior in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has achieved tremendous technological development. A cursory glance at the Ministry's computer network provides tangible proof of the development achieved by the Kingdom's security sectors. Known as the "National Data Center," this system is made up of a computer network linked to the Ministry's centers throughout the Kingdom via terminals for entering and retrieving security, administrative and service data.

The main components of the project include:

1 Terminal systems (more than 1,000) installed in more than 250 centers for the entering and retrieval of data.

2 Minor centers for receiving incoming data from terminal systems prior to sending it to the main center in Riyadh. There are eight centers: in Riyadh, Jeddah, Taif, Tabouk, Ara'ar, Buraidah, Dammam and Abha.

3 There are three computer systems in the main center in Riyadh.

Using both Arabic and English languages, this network is linked to civil status departments, border control centers, traffic departments and other related organs. In addition to the above, there is a Supervision and Control Center, which enables HRH the Minister of Interior to oversee projects, hold meetings with senior Ministry officials and take appropriate decisions.

Some services provided by the center are the following:

Civilian Statistics
The Computer uses advanced methods to establish the identity of the citizen, giving him a permanent, unchangeable number. This method is used to organize civilian records, including identity card information.

Driving Licenses
The above method is also applied in this regard, using terminals and electronic cameras. The license card is issued and recorded. Traffic violations are also recorded. License data can be retrieved within seconds and traffic statistics can be accurately compiled and analyzed.

Residence Permits for Non-Saudis
The Kingdom plays host to millions of foreign workers, attracted by the country's ambitious development plans. Simple and efficient procedures are applied to monitor the conditions of non-Saudis, as well as to issue their residence permits and specific identification numbers needed to retrieve vital information.

Criminal Records and Data Bank
The criminal sheet, containing information about hardened criminals, is one of the measures used by security organs in their campaign against crime. Statistics are compiled annually by security organs. This work is controlled by the main computer terminals and the data bank. The same system also handles the promotion of personnel, training and salaries. It compiles data about the budget, expenditure and the stores. The staff undertaking the operation and maintenance of the National Data Center are all Saudis. In addition to the above, their work covers other security areas, such as the issuance of passports, using terminals at passport offices which are linked to the main computer and the Central Data Bank. They also record the renewal of passports, the addition of family members or modificaof previous information. The Ministry of Interior's General Passports Directorate has also used the computer to register the annual influx of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and visitors. This project has been designed to ensure total secrecy and serve the Country's general interest. Only those involved in the project can retrieve the data compiled in the system. "The systems presently used by the Ministry of Interior are equivalent to those used in Britain," one expert has affirmed.




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