Saudi Arabia on the Edge: the Uncertain Future of an American Ally by Thomas W. Lippman

Mohammed Nuruzzaman is Associate Professor of International Relations at the Gulf University for Science and Technology, Mishref, Kuwait.
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  • July 2013
    Book Review

    Saudi Arabia is a country the West loves and hates simultaneously. Often termed a ‘mysterious land’, Westerners largely view Saudi Arabia as a country ‘defined by oil, terrorism and veiled women’ (p. 1). The vast oil resources of the country unfailingly increase its strategic importance which helps to foster closer ties with the Americans and the Europeans who otherwise scorn its strict religious orientations, undemocratic and closed system of governance, and the excessive social and cultural dominance of the Wahhabi religious establishment. Things started to change after King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud took over power in 2005. The ambitious modernisation programmes of the king—taking in industrialisation, educational reforms, urbanisation, limited democratisation and human rights improvements, etc—have often fostered new tensions in Saudi society, pitting the forces of traditionalism against the forces of progress.