Since the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 Saudi Arabia has marketed itself as a moderate regime, a bulwark between Western interests and a backward population. King Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz al-Saud’s reformist approach has helped to develop this image of benign paternalism. The rulers are more progressive than the society, the argument goes. A case in point is the king’s decision earlier this year to appoint 20 impressive female MPs to the country’s 100-strong Shura Council, the body that advises the government on legislation.
The number is incorrect. Saudi Arabia appointed 30 women to the Shoura Council which has 150 members in total.