As the unrest spreads throughout the Middle East, Saudi Arabian authorities have banned all protests ahead of it’s planned Day Of Rage on 11 March. Another protest is also being planned for 20 March. A few analysts have predicted that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia could become another Tunisia, Libya or Egypt. However, the protestors are currently not planning to overthrow the ruling family as in the other countries but are calling for free elections for some of the higher government positions and more representation of the people, interalia.
The Saudi Day of Rage is being organized on Facebook. The page had 26191 fans as at 5 March 2011. However protestors face a problem in that this Facebook page cannot be viewed in Saudi Arabia and may only be viewed through proxy. Therefore the number of likes is perhaps not fully representative of the protestors planning to march. There are also unconfirmed reports that 27-year old Faisal Ahmed Abdul-Ahadwas, one of the administrators of the Facebook group, has already been shot.
Protests in Saudi Arabia could send shockwaves through global markets. There is alot of uncertainty about what will happen and how it will be dealt with by the kingdom. Saudi Arabia produces roughly 10 percent of the world’s daily consumption and is home to one fifth of the world’s known oil reserves. It is also a close U.S. ally and an absolute monarchy in that it does not tolerate any form of public dissent, does not have an elected parliament or any political parties.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that "The kingdom's regulations prohibit all kinds of demonstrations, marches and sit-in protests, as well as calling for them, as they go against the principles of Shariah and Saudi customs and traditions," They also announced that action would be taken against all those who violated these regulations.
For more: Saudi Arabia bans protests ahead of its Day of Rage