The Paradoxical Kingdom: Saudi Arabia and the Momentum of Reform

The Paradoxical Kingdom: Saudi Arabia and the Momentum of Reform

by Daryl Champion
     
 

The major player in the OPEC international oil industry cartel, Saudi Arabia is also the homeland of the Prophet Muhammad and the center of the Muslim world with the most sacred Islamic sites located in and around the cities of Mecca and Madina. To the non-Saudi, the kingdom appears remarkably calm and stable, at least by the standards of the Middle East. But the

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Overview

The major player in the OPEC international oil industry cartel, Saudi Arabia is also the homeland of the Prophet Muhammad and the center of the Muslim world with the most sacred Islamic sites located in and around the cities of Mecca and Madina. To the non-Saudi, the kingdom appears remarkably calm and stable, at least by the standards of the Middle East. But the rise of a new type of international terrorism, personified by exiled Saudi Osama bin Laden and with extensive roots in post- Gulf War Saudi Arabia, testifies to a volatile underground of discontent within the kingdom. Ideological frustration with the Saudi regime's perceived submission to American imperialism has merged with Saudi Arabia's chronic social and economic inequality to create an increasingly unstable situation.

Daryl Champion, a specialist in Saudi Arabian affairs, opens a vista on these developments usually closed to Western observers. In the face of internal and external calls for reform and the mounting imperatives of globalization, the Al Saud dynasty is at a crossroads. The reforms required by the global economy conflict with both the vested interests of the kingdom's elites and the demands of a domestic population that has deeply conservative religious and cultural roots and proud traditions. The Paradoxical Kingdom develops five interrelated themes, exploring the complex cross currents of religion, tradition, domestic and global economics, politics, and state power in Saudi Arabia as the nation uneasily enters the twenty-first century. It shows how a great deal of wealth has been squandered and how the state's wealth is in decline, examines the Arabian equivalent of Asia's infamous "crony capitalism," and considers the durability of the Saudi oil/welfare state and the House of Saud itself.

Champion's portrait of domestic Saudi society is augmented by an examination of the kingdom's increasingly complicated and uneasy relationship with the United States. He explores the vital interconnections between the rising tide of anti-American sentiment in Saudi Arabia and popular resistance to the cultural implications of globalization. This conflation of forces, Champion argues, portends a future of increasing political dissent in the land of the Prophet.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Since its founding in the early 20th century, Saudi Arabia has been of key strategic and economic importance to the West. The al-Saud dynasty, which has governed the kingdom since its establishment, has developed an understanding with the United States: In return for an affordable and regular supply of oil, Washington would guarantee the security and survival of the Saud dynasty. This informal arrangement has worked remarkably well for both sides. However, events since September 11, 2001, have challenged some of the assumptions of the U.S.-Saudi relationship and have catapulted the kingdom to the center of the emerging foreign policy debate in Washington. In this detailed, informative, and well-researched study, Champion, a specialist in Saudi affairs and a former scholar at the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University, focuses on the challenges Saudi Arabia faces both at home and abroad and the sociopolitical and economic factors that may undermine its stability in the 21st century. This evenhanded account is recommended for academic and large public libraries.-Nader Entessar, Spring Hill Coll., Mobile, AL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Washington Times
Deserves a round of applause.

— Arnold Beichman

Choice

Champion offers an excellent review of Saudi history... Highly recommended [for] graduate, faculty, and professional collections.

Middle East Policy
Saudi stability is the subject of Daryl Champion's book The Paradoxical Kingdom. Champion starts from the premise that Saudi Arabia remains of critical economic and strategic importance to the West.... He has done a good job of synthesizing the workd of other observers of the Saudi scene and weighing the merits of their research.... His conclusions are balanced and avoid the alarmist tone of so much other recent writing about the kingdom.

— Brooks Wrampelmeier

Middle East Journal
The overall scope of the book and the author's keen insights help dispel much of the misinformation and misperceptions that seem to cloud outsiders' views of this important but essentially closed society.

— David E. Long

International Affairs
This book is for both the specialist and the non-specialist alike, since it presents a comprehensive analysis of the Kingdom... [A]ccompanied by interviews with a range of Saudi personalities including some related to the regime... this is a serious study that is worth attention, whether one is approaching the complexities of the Saudi regime for the first time or wishes to examine more closely the predicaments currently faced by the Kingdom.

— Alejandra Galindo Marines

Arab Studies Journal
His style is meticulous and he is... adept at interweaving and overlapping an enormous amount of material.

— Peter C. Valenti

Washington Times - Arnold Beichman

Deserves a round of applause.

Middle East Policy - Brooks Wrampelmeier

Saudi stability is the subject of Daryl Champion's bookThe Paradoxical Kingdom. Champion starts from the premise that Saudi Arabia remains of critical economic and strategic importance to the West.... He has done a good job of synthesizing the workd of other observers of the Saudi scene and weighing the merits of their research.... His conclusions are balanced and avoid the alarmist tone of so much other recent writing about the kingdom.

Middle East Journal - David E. Long

The overall scope of the book and the author's keen insights help dispel much of the misinformation and misperceptions that seem to cloud outsiders' views of this important but essentially closed society.

International Affairs - Alejandra Galindo Marines

This book is for both the specialist and the non-specialist alike, since it presents a comprehensive analysis of the Kingdom... [A]ccompanied by interviews with a range of Saudi personalities including some related to the regime... this is a serious study that is worth attention, whether one is approaching the complexities of the Saudi regime for the first time or wishes to examine more closely the predicaments currently faced by the Kingdom.

Arab Studies Journal - Peter C. Valenti

His style is meticulous and he is... adept at interweaving and overlapping an enormous amount of material.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231128148
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
10/15/2003
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 8.78(h) x 1.16(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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