Saudis Now Have an Online Portal to the King

KingkingSaudi Arabia’s King Abdullah launched a new site Wednesday morning which citizens can use to send him comments about the government.
Image: Brendan Smialowski/Associated Press

Citizens in Saudi Arabia can now voice their opinions about their country via a new website, which promises to be a direct portal to the government.

The site is intended to establish a connection between Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and the country’s citizens, according to Arab News. It launched Wednesday morning and was the brainchild of the king himself.

Anyone with a Saudi Arabian national identity card can open an account on the site using their state-issued ID number. They can then submit any comments, complaints or suggestions, which will reportedly be forwarded to King Abdullah, state officials told the Saudi Gazette.

Government agencies could be taken to task under this new system, as users will be able to point out any issues with services they offer — an opportunity which has the potential to benefit residents.

Abdelelah Saaty, dean at King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia, believes this the website is a positive step forward.

“The strategic move by the Royal Court is a landmark in the Kingdom’s history,” Saaty told Arab News.

“The new website will contribute to citizens’ voices reaching the country’s top leadership.”

“The new website will contribute to citizens’ voices reaching the country’s top leadership.”

The move doesn’t exactly match with Saudi Arabia’s previous Internet policies. It has strict filtering policies that ban sites it defines as offensive, which includes anything related to pornography, LGBT topics and human rights issues. It banned messaging app Viber and WhatsApp in June, and its religious police force said in May that Muslims who use Twitter or other forms of social media are going to hell. Despite this claim, one-third of connected Saudi Arabians use Twitter actively every month.

The site is currently operating on an experimental basis, according to the Saudi Gazette.