Speech by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to the Shura Council on 25 September 2011, announcing that women would be allowed to take part in elections.
Source: Asharq Alwasat. Full text.
In the name of Allah, the most Merciful, the most Gracious,
Peace be upon Prophet Mohammed and His companions,
I am pleased to meet you at the opening of the third year of the fifth term of Majlis Al-Shura, praying to Allah Almighty to crown your works with success.
The struggle of the father of all people, the late King Abdul Aziz, with your grandfathers (Mercy be upon their souls), has resulted in the unity of hearts, land, and one destiny. Today, this destiny imposes on us to preserve this legacy, and not to stop here, but to develop it further in line with Islamic and moral values.
Yes, it is a responsibility towards our religion, and the interest of our country and its citizens that we should not stop at the hurdles of the current time; but we should strengthen our determination by patience and works with dependence on Allah to address them.
Balanced modernization in line with our Islamic values, which preserve rights, is an important requirement in an era with no room for the weak and undecided people.
All people know that Muslim women have had in the Islamic history, positions that cannot be marginalized, including correct opinions and advice since the era of Prophet Mohammed, as examples, we cite the advice of the Mother of Believers 'Umm Salamah' on 'Al-Hudaybiyah' Day, in addition to many examples during the era of the Prophet's companions and followers until today.
Since we reject to marginalize the role of women in the Saudi society, in every field of works, according to the (Islamic) Sharia guidelines, and after consultations with many of our scholars, especially those in the senior scholars council, and others, who have expressed the preference for this orientation, and supported this trend, we have decided the following:
First, the participation of women in the Majlis Al-Shura as members from next session in accordance with the Sharia guidelines.
Second, as of the next session, women will have the right to nominate themselves for membership of Municipal Councils, and also have the right to participate in the nomination of candidates with the Islamic guidelines.
You -my brothers and sisters- have rights that we strive to achieve all matters that are for your pride, your dignity and your interests. It is our right to seek your opinions and advices, according to Sharia guidelines, and the fundamentals of religion, and those who keep away from these guidelines, they are arrogant persons and they have to bear the responsibility of these actions.
I pray Allah Almighty for help and glory.
May peace and Allah's mercy and blessings be upon you.