chapter  1
Saudi Arabia: internal dynamics and absorptive capacity
Pages 27

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has entered the twenty-first century without major cataclysmic events, disproving doomsday prophecies.1 Ever since the holy alliance forged in 1744 between the House of Saud (Al Saud) and the prominent religious scholar, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the kingdom has witnessed several waves of dissent, but the regime has consistently managed to reinforce its authority and legitimacy, both in the eyes of Saudi citizens and those of the rest of the world. In this quest for survival, Al Saud has learnt the art of utilising the vast resources of hydrocarbons, oil and gas at its disposal, and also attuning the religious forces to that objective. The regime has successfully mixed religion with the welfare-cum-developmental concept of statecraft.2 As a result, the common public, who had hitherto been used to only the vagaries of desert life, have been easily tamed and co-opted. Al Saud deftly managed to present an altogether distinctive face of an authoritarian regime that could not be questioned by the freedomloving tribes of the Arabian Peninsula.