Sa'udi Arabia is a religiously based monarchy in which the sovereign's dominant powers are regulated according to Muslim law (Shari'ah), tribal law, and custom.
There is no written constitution; laws must be compatible with Islamic law. In a decree of March 1992, the king was granted exclusive power to name the crown prince his successor. The Council of Ministers, first set up in 1953, is appointed by the king to advise on policy, originate legislation, and supervise the growing bureaucracy. The post of prime minister has been reserved for the king, and the crown prince has been appointed first deputy prime minister. Most other important posts in the cabinet are reserved for members of the royal family.
In 1992, King Fahd announced the creation of the Majlis al Shura, an advisory body that would provide a forum for public debate. The king appointed 60 male citizens not belonging to the royal family to four-year terms on this body, which held its first meeting on 29 December 1992. In 1997, King Fahd increased the size of the Majlis to 90 members. In May 2001, membership was increased to 120.