29 February 2016
Saudi Arabia is confronting a perfect storm of challenges: economic, political, social, ideological, and geopolitical. How it weathers the storm will likely depend on how it handles the inevitable restructuring of the problematic partnership between the Al Saud ruling family and the Wahhabi ulama or religious scholars, on whom the former rely for their legitimacy.
Saudi Arabia may be heading into a perfect storm of economic problems, social challenges and foreign policy crises. Tumbling commodity and energy prices are forcing the Saudi government to reform, diversify, streamline and rationalise the kingdom’s economy. The government is cutting subsidies, raising prices for services, searching for alternative sources of revenue, and moving towards providing a greater role for women and the private sector.
Cost-cutting occurs at a time when Saudi Arabia is spending effusively on efforts to counter winds of political change in the region—notably its stalled military intervention in Yemen, its support for anti-Bashar Al-Assad rebels in Syria, and its massive stimulus injections into an increasingly troubled regime in Egypt that has yet to perform. Traditional autocratic rule in the Middle East and North Africa is being challenged like never before.
… James M. Dorsey is a Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and co-director of the Institute of Fan Culture of the University of Wurzburg, Germany.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 01/03/2016