Saudis Misbehaving?

  • David Cowan


Saudi Arabia represents global Islam by virtue of the Kingdom holding the custodianship of the two holy sites in Mecca and Medina, toward which the 1.6 billion Muslims (, around the world are called to turn in prayer and submission to God’s will. This presents a powerful image of a global faith, but also highlights that ownership of the two holy sites is a major global political and economic position to hold. If a new Caliphate or an Iranian-led destabilization of Saudi Arabia were ever to come about, and consensus says it won’t, it would be because their forces will have driven out the house of Saud and taken custodianship of these sites. Current wisdom suggests this is a somewhat fanciful notion, though Saudis I have spoken to in recent years have certainly expressed the view they feel Iran is a real and credible threat. It is very much in the realms of possibility today we could see a destabilized Saudi Arabia. What heightens this threat is the emerging economic picture in Saudi, which is undergoing a paradigmatic change in its economy as it seeks to move from oil-dependency and the resource curse into a more diversified and sustainable economy. Whether, and how it might, fail or succeed is the question in this book. I posit the possibility that the Kingdom could very well implode within the timeframe the Saudis have set themselves of 2030 to reinvent their economy. Critics may argue implosion is unlikely, but economic implosion or failures are frequently seen in the light of that wonderful thing called hindsight, and consensus is a fickle thing. Many economists, as well as political scientists and others, did not foresee the implosion of the Soviet Union or the 2008 recession. There may be various reasons for this, but in part I suggest this is because they did not study the behaviors of the leaders and networks of people closely enough.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Cowan
    • 1
  1. 1.Boston CollegeBostonUSA

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