The major player in the OPEC international oil industry cartel, Saudi Arabia is the land of the Prophet Muhammad and the site of the most sacred Islamic shrines in and around the cities of Mecca and Medina. As recent events have shown, what happens in Saudi Arabia has vital consequences not only for its smaller Arabian Gulf neighbors and for the Middle East generally, but also for the West and the global economy.
Daryl Champion, a specialist in Saudi Arabian affairs, offers a view of the kingdom that is usually inaccessible to Westerners. To the non-Saudi, the kingdom appears calm and stable, certainly by the standards of the Middle East. But, as Champion shows, opposition movements in the kingdom have both a history and a social context, and challenge the House of Saud. The devastating 1996 Khobar bombing and the emergence of the Saudi exile, Osama bin Laden, testify to a volatile underground of discontent.
Moreover, since the crash in oil prices of 1986, unstable petroleum markets have wreaked havoc on Saudi finances. Pressure is building for restructuring, but the reforms required by the global economy often conflict with the vested interests of the kingdom´s elites and with the demands of the domestic population, which has deep religio-cultural roots and proud traditions. The Paradoxical Kingdom shows how religion, tradition, society, economics, politics, and the state interact with each other in Saudi Arabia as the nation lurches into the twenty-first century. The book shows how wealth has been squandered, examines the Arabian equivalent of Asia´s infamous 'crony capitalism,´ and considers the durability of the Al Saud dynasty.
|Publisher:||Indiana University Press|
About the Author
Daryl Champion has been studying Middle Eastern history, society, and politics for almost two decades. He holds a Ph.D in political science and international relations from The Australian National University (ANU) and is a former research scholar at the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at the ANU.