Saudi Arabia. Thoughts about the past and the future

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: President Emeritus of IAS RAS
Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences (IAS RAS)
Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)
Address: Moscow, 30/1, Spiridonovka Str., Moscow, 123001, Russian Federation
Journal nameAsia and Africa Today
EditionIssue 10

Saudi Arabia’s unique position in the world in terms of oil and Islam is combined with the preservation of a traditional, albeit changing, socio-political order based on Sharia in its Wahhabi interpretation. Many scholars have repeatedly been pessimistic about the future of the Saudi regime. However, history has demonstrated its amazing resilience.

Established by King Faisal in the 1960s–70s, the balance in the royal family has helped avoid major upheavals for almost half a century. Yet socio-political stagnation, the emergence of new social forces in Saudi society, and conflicts within the “tribe of Al Saud” threatened to destabilize the situation.

In response, King Salman (since 2015) and his son Mohammed have focused on the strengthening the centralization of power in their hands and began to implement the necessary socio-economic reforms, breaking the resistance of the opposition. Their task was and is to adapt the country to the new realities of the 20th century in the context of growing multipolarity.

KeywordsSaudis, King Faisal, King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi reforms, Saudi Arabia’s relations with the USA, China, Russia
AcknowledgmentThis study was supported by the Russian Science Foundation, project № 19-18-00155-P “Islamic extremism in the context of international security: threats to Russia and opportunities to counter”.
Publication date22.11.2023
Number of characters41359
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