The Strange State Of Saudi Arabia

December 26, 2012 in Daily Bulletin

Why, despite present conditions in the country, hasn’t Saudi Arabia faced a democratic revolution pondered Hugh Eakin. Highlights of his article include:

  • Rapid population growth has meant that despite the country’s vast resources, per capita incomes have declined to a fraction of those of other Persian Gulf countries.
  • Almost 75% of the population is under 30 yet they are ruled by an ageing monarch. The next in line for the throne is 76.
  • There are huge economic problems in the form of high unemployment, rapid inflation, and a housing crisis in addition to social issues such as drugs and street violence.
  • The country’s citizens are also well connected to social media – something that is said to have driven the Arab Spring.
  • Yet the monarchy holds onto power because it gives liberties to those who desire it. Youth are encouraged to study abroad; at private beaches Saudis can wear western attire; and in walled compounds individuals are out of the reach of the religious police. All of this mitigates revolutionary passion.

Read more about the curious case of Saudi Arabia, why most things that people think they know about its history are wrong, and how two academics came to completely separate conclusions about the future of the monarchy in Saudi Arabia over here.

Source: The New York Review Of Books

Via: Marginal Revolution