Saudi Arabia is a major piece on the world geopolitical chessboard. Despite the suspicion that has enveloped the country since September 11, 2001, Saudi Arabia remains the key US ally in the Arab Middle East, a role secured by its continuing position as the world's largest oil exporter and its ever growing influence in the Muslim world. Yet the country is still very poorly understood. Western observers have rarely been able to penetrate this closed society and its opaque political system. Cliches about the role of oil wealth and fundamentalist Wahhabi Islam often serve to further mask the reality. The true complexity of Saudi society cannot be reduced to a mixture of poorly assimilated modernity and medieval Bedouin tradition.This volume illustrates the emerging autonomous - and Islamic - manifestations of Saudi national identity, fiercely reformist rather than medieval, complex and varied rather than merely a justification or support for the rule of the al-Saud royal family. Underlying Menorett's account is a sophisticated economic history of the Saudi state, from the eighteenth century to the present day, which details all the alliances and manoeuvres that have brought the country and its rulers to their current precarious position.
The Saudi Enigma
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