Definition of Youth

The youth chapter of the Ninth Development Plan (2010–2014) of Saudi Arabia defines youth as 15-24 years old.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 0
  • 0
  • XX
  • Female
  • 0
  • 0
  • XX

  • Homosexual acts illegal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
The Committee on Rights of Child were informed that the minimum age had risen to 12 years. Human Rights Watch can find no evidence to support this. Source:  Human Rights Watch

Majority Age


While Wikipedia lists 15 as the majority age, HRW contests the applied legal age in this report.

Voting Age


Saudi Arabia has no provision for direct national elections. Women will be allowed to vote by 2015.
Source:  Inter-Parliamentary Union

Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 99.38% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.29% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • --Male %
  • -- Female %

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 21.20% Male (13-15) %
  • 9.10% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Saudi Arabia is developing a youth policy. The ninth development plan (2010-2014) has a youth chapter.

Between 2009-2013, the Ministry of Economy and Planning partnered with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to develop a ‘national youth strategy’ for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The National Youth Strategy Project received $1,182,720 and aimed to “enhancing participation of youth in national development processes…”

The ninth development plan 2010-2014 includes a youth chapter on youth development, focusing on issues such as sport, health, education, culture, women and involvement in society. It includes specific objectives, targets and policies for youth development with financial commitments listed.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
According to the development plan 2010-2014 youth chapter, the General Presidency for Youth Welfare is the government agency responsible for coordinating youth sports and social activities in over 107 towns and villages through 123 government facilities. This includes sports cities, youth hostels, sport centres, stadiums, gymnasiums and public squares. It liaises with government bodies and departments, particularly the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Culture and Information. It focuses on sports and social activities.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
While youth participation in societal, community, economic and employment spheres is referenced throughout the Ninth Development Plan (2010-2014), no formal structures exist to realise this.

In a survey referenced in Saudi Arabia’s Youth and the Kingdom’s Future (2011), 63% of youth respondents said the Saudi government should “give young people increased access to decision-making process and policy implementation at local level”, 58% believed the government should create “local youth councils for effective participation in society.”

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
SAR 7.2 billion
USD 1.9 billion
The Chapter on Youth Development in the Ninth Development Plan (2010-2014) details the expenditure relating to youth:
Under the Ninth Development Plan, the financial requirements for implementing the programmes and various activities of the youth sector (the General Presidency for Youth Welfare) amount to SR7.2 billion.
According to the World Bank, Saudi Arabia spent 19.3% of its government expenditure and 5.6% of its GDP on education provision in 2008.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank

Additional Background

Social and democratic change

Though Saudi Arabia remains an absolute monarchy with high levels of social control, the Chapter of Youth Development comments that the current generation, which has higher education rates and low illiteracy rates than previous generations and are better connected through social media and online platforms, are “most amenable to accepting change and assimilating developments.”

The 2011 Saudi Arabia’s Youth and the Kingdom's Future report by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, postulates that change will be initiated by economic factors rather than because of political reforms:
More pressing than political issues, however, is the need to respond to the demand for jobs from the army of young workers marching on the national workplace. If their employ­ment aspirations are unmet, or if the economic situation deteriorates dramatically and drastically, Saudi youth are likely to become a more volatile and discontented segment of the population, and some may again take refuge in extremist versions of Islam.
The bottom line is that young Saudis are being shaped by political and economic forces never before experienced in a massive way in Saudi Arabia. As a result, change is coming to the kingdom.”
Development plans

Saudi Arabia has highly centralised planning, as can be seen with the nine, 5-year development plans that act as strategic documents for the medium term planning of the country. New financing and initiatives are more easily seen through development plans than through Government Ministries.

On the launch of the Ninth Development Plan (2010–2014), the Saudi Embassy to the United States of America, commented that:
The Ninth Five-Year Development Plan will establish 117 new hospitals, 750 primary health care centres and 400 emergency centers, Minister Al-Gosaibi said following the Cabinet’s decision. The development plan also calls for doubling the present capacity of desalination plants from 1.05 billion to 2.07 billion cubic meters annually by 2014.