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Introduction

This study is about the management of ‘truth’ in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It aims to explore the ways in which the official ‘truth’ is tailored, sustained and promulgated in the country. It attempts to critically analyse some of the ways in which the official ‘truth’ is constructed to rationalize the prevailing model of the distribution of power in Saudi Arabia. Indeed, ‘truth’ as a notion signifies winning and losing at the same time. It

concurrently refers to the superiority of a thesis and the inferiority of its antithesis. It signifies the triumph of the prevailing perspectives at the expense of the overpowered ones. Truth monopolizes the highest rank in the hierarchy of perspectives. Within the realm of ideas, truth is the anointed king of perspectives and it rules and dominates like a king. Indeed, once a perspective is crowned as the truth, it becomes the instrument for measuring other competing narratives and perspectives. Hence truth, more than anything, signifies power and the relations of power. For Foucault truth is not outside power. As he puts it, ‘It is not the reward

of free spirits, the child of prolonged solitudes, or the privilege of those who have been able to liberate themselves, truth is of the world, it is produced there by virtue of multiple constraints and it includes there the regulated effect of power’.1For Foucault, ‘truth’ is linked in a circular relation with the systems of power, which produce and sustain it, and to the effects of power, which it induces and which extend it. As he notes, ‘Truth is not a form of power innocent of coercion, discipline and normalisation, it is not knowledge without deception’.2 In this light, truth is not born in a power vacuum and often its construction and normalization signify domination in one way or another. Hence, what the management of truth means is, in principle, the management of power, and the quest for truth is the quest for power. Although the notion of power can be conceptualized in many ways, the transitional nature of power has created many moments in history when the management of truth has shifted from one power complex to another. This study aims to explore the ways in which the Wahhabi narratives,

which emerged in the eighteenth century, were translated into the official ‘truth’ in the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.3 The ruling mechanism in of the Islamic

narrative. It believes that it has rediscovered the ‘truth’ after centuries of false interpretations, which were worldly innovation promulgated by deviant Muslims. According to Wahhabi doctrine, there has been a discrepancy between the truth and the practices of the vast majority of Muslims.4