Topics: MIDDLE EAST - Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

History of Saudi Arabia

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

This discussion focuses on Saudi Arabia since the 18th century. For a treatment of earlier periods and of the country in its regional context, see Arabia.

The coastal parts of the territory that was to become Saudi Arabia participated in the broad trends of Arabian Peninsula history in the Islamic period—the rise of Islam in western Arabia in the 7th century, the creation and expansion of the various Islamic empires to the 10th century, the establishment of separate and usually small Muslim states in the period leading to the 15th century, and the ordering of the Arab Middle East conducted by the Ottoman Empire starting in the 16th century. Central Arabia was linked commercially and intellectually with western Arabia and the Fertile Crescent but was often isolated from general political and military trends because of its remoteness and relative poverty. In the middle of the 18th century in central Arabia, an alliance of Muslim Wahhabi religious reformers and the Sa’udi dynasty formed a new state and society that resulted in the creation of three successive Sa’udi kingdoms, including the modern country of Saudi Arabia, officially proclaimed in 1932.

History » The Wahhabi movement » Origins and early expansion

As the population of the oasis towns of central Arabia such as ‘Uyaynah slowly grew from the 16th to the early 18th century, the ‘ulamaʾ (religious scholars) residing there increased in number and sophistication. Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, the founder of the Wahhabi movement, was born in ‘Uyaynah in 1703 to a family of religious judges and scholars and as a young man traveled widely in other regions of the Middle East. It was upon his return to ‘Uyaynah that he first began to preach his revolutionary ideas of conservative religious reformation based on a strict moral code. His teaching was influenced by that of the 14th-century Ḥanbali scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, who called for the purification of Islam through the expulsion of practices that he saw as innovations, including speculative theology, Sufism, and such popular religious practices as saint worship.

The ruler of ‘Uyaynah, ‘Uthman ibn Mu’ammar, gladly welcomed the returning prodigal and even adhered to his doctrines. But many opposed him, and ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s preaching was put to a number of severe tests. The chief of the Al-Hasa region, who was of the influential Banu Khalid tribe, threatened to withhold gifts to ‘Uthman, or even to go to war with him, unless ‘Abd al-Wahhab was put to death.

‘Uthman, unable to face this danger but unwilling to kill his guest, decided to dismiss ‘Abd al-Wahhab from his territory. ‘Abd al-Wahhab went to Al-Dir’iyyah, some 40 miles (65 km) away, which had been the seat of the local prince Muhammad ibn Sa’ud since 1726. In 1745 people flocked to the teaching of the reformer. The alliance of theologian and prince, duly sealed by mutual oaths of loyalty, soon began to prosper in terms of military success and expansion.

One by one, the enemies of the new union were conquered. The earliest wars brought ‘Uyaynah and portions of Al-Hasa under Wahhabi control, but the oasis town of Riyadh maintained a stubborn resistance for 27 years before succumbing to the steady pressure of the new movement. By 1765, when Muhammad ibn Sa’ud died, only a few parts of central and eastern Arabia had fallen under more or less effective Wahhabi rule.

Muhammad ibn Sa’ud’s son and successor, ‘Abd al-’Aziz I (reigned 1765–1803), who had been largely responsible for this extension of his father’s realm through his exploits as commander in chief of the Wahhabi forces, continued to work in complete harmony with Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab. It was the latter who virtually controlled the civil administration of the country, while ‘Abd al-’Aziz himself, later in cooperation with his warlike son, Sa’ud I (1803–14), busied himself with the expansion of his empire far beyond the limits inherited by him. Meanwhile, in 1792, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab died at the age of 89. Wahhabi attacks on settled areas had begun to attract the attention of officials of the Ottoman Empire, the dominant political force in the region. In 1798 an Ottoman force invaded Al-Hasa, though it later was compelled to withdraw. Qatar fell to the Sa’udis in 1797, and they also gained control through local allies over Bahrain and parts of Oman.

History » The Wahhabi movement » Struggle with the Ottomans

In 1801 the Wahhabis captured and sacked the Shi’ite holy city of Karbalaʾ in Ottoman Iraq, plundering and damaging important religious buildings. In the following year, Sa’ud led his father’s army to the capture of Mecca itself in the Hejaz, which was also under Ottoman control. It was soon after Sa’ud’s return from this expedition that his father was assassinated by a Shi’ite in the mosque of Al-Dir’iyyah in revenge for the desecration of Karbalaʾ.

Conflict between the Ottomans and the Wahhabis of Arabia now broke out in earnest. In 1804 Sa’ud captured Medina, and the Wahhabi empire embraced the whole of Arabia down to Yemen and Oman. Year after year, Sa’ud visited Mecca to preside over the hajj pilgrimage as the imam of the Muslim congregation. But the tide was soon to turn to his disadvantage. The sultan of the Ottoman Empire, preoccupied in other directions, consigned to Muhammad ‘Ali, the virtually independent viceroy of Egypt, the task of crushing those the Ottomans viewed as heretics. An Egyptian force landed on the Hejaz coast under the command of Muhammad ‘Ali’s son Ṭusun. Sa’ud inflicted a severe defeat on the invaders, but reinforcements enabled Ṭusun to occupy Mecca and Medina in 1812. The following year, Muhammad ‘Ali assumed command of the expeditionary force in person. In the east, Britain severely curbed the maritime activities of the Qawasim dynasty, who were allies of the Wahhabis, in 1809.

Sa’ud died at Al-Dir’iyyah in 1814. His successor, his son ‘Abd Allah ibn Sa’ud, was scarcely of his father’s calibre, and the capture of Al-Ra’s in Al-Qaá¹£im region by the Egyptians in 1815 forced him to sue for peace. This was duly arranged, but the truce was short-lived, and in 1816 the struggle was renewed, with Ibrahim Pasha, another of Muhammad ‘Ali’s sons, in command of the Egyptian forces. Gaining the support of the volatile tribes by skillful diplomacy and lavish gifts, he advanced into central Arabia. Joined by most of the principal tribes, he appeared before Al-Dir’iyyah in April 1818. Fighting ended in September with the surrender of ‘Abd Allah, who was sent to the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (Istanbul) and beheaded. Local Wahhabi leaders also were executed, Al-Dir’iyyah was razed, and Egyptian garrisons were posted to the principal towns. The Sa’ud family had suffered heavy losses during the fighting. A few had managed to escape before the surrender; the rest were sent to Egypt for detention along with descendants of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab. The Wahhabi empire ceased to exist, but the faith lived on in the desert and in the towns of central Arabia in defiance of the new rulers of the land.

History » Second Sa’udi state

The dynasty was restored and the second Sa’udi state begun in 1824 when Turki (1823–34), a grandson of Muhammad ibn Sa’ud, succeeded in capturing Riyadh and expelling the Egyptian garrison. Thereafter, Riyadh remained the capital of the state. Turki tried to maintain friendly ties with the Ottoman governors of Iraq, as he accepted nominal Ottoman sovereignty, and with the British. Al-Hasa and Ḥaʾil fell again to the Sa’udis by 1830 as the town militias of central Arabia, which formed the bases of the Sa’udi army, overcame the nomadic tribes. Literature, commerce, and agriculture flourished despite the crushing losses to society occasioned by the return of cholera.

In 1834 Turki was murdered by an ambitious cousin, who then was deposed and executed by Turki’s son Fayá¹£al (1834–38; 1843–65). Fayá¹£al had been carried away into captivity in Egypt in 1818 but had escaped in 1828 to rejoin his father and play a prominent part in reestablishing Wahhabi rule. He refused to pay the Egyptian tribute, and in 1837 an Egyptian expeditionary force entered Riyadh. Fayá¹£al was captured the following year and returned to Cairo. Khalid, son of Sa’ud and brother of ‘Abd Allah, was installed as ruler of Najd by the Egyptians on the condition that he recognize Egyptian hegemony.

The subservience of Khalid to his Egyptian and Ottoman masters was increasingly resented by his Wahhabi subjects, and in 1841 his cousin, ‘Abd Allah ibn Thunayan, raised the standard of revolt. Riyadh was captured by a bold coup; its garrison was expelled; and Khalid, who was in Al-Hasa at the time, fled by ship to Jiddah. ‘Abd Allah resisted when Fayá¹£al reappeared in 1843, only to be overpowered and slain. So Fayá¹£al resumed his reign after an interruption of five years and ruled basically unchallenged, despite occasional tribal uprisings and friction with the townspeople of Al-Qaá¹£im, until his death in 1865. The Hejaz remained in Ottoman hands, while northern Arabia (the province of Jabal Shammar) was locally autonomous but acknowledged the supremacy of Riyadh. Fayá¹£al reestablished Sa’udi authority for a short time in Bahrain and for a longer time in Al-Buraymi and the Oman hinterland. He extended his influence as far as Hadhramaut and the frontiers of Yemen. Only British intervention stopped the extension of direct Sa’udi power over the western shore of the gulf.

Administration under Fayá¹£al was simple and involved few people, mostly members of the royal family and descendants of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab. Justice in the provinces was enforced by officials appointed by Riyadh; even the tribes paid taxes; and the writing of poetry and history flourished.

History » Second Sa’udi state » Death of Fayá¹£al

In 1865, when his power was an acknowledged factor in Arabian politics, Fayá¹£al died. His sons disputed the succession. His eldest son, ‘Abd Allah, succeeded first, maintaining himself against the rebellion of his brother Sa’ud II for six years until the Battle of Judah (1871), in which Sa’ud triumphed. ‘Abd Allah fled, and Sa’ud took power. But during the next five years the throne changed hands no fewer than seven times in favour of different members of the Sa’ud family. Drought in 1870–74 exacerbated the civil war’s effects as the unity of the Wahhabi community disintegrated. Meanwhile, ‘Abd Allah had appealed to the Ottoman governor in Baghdad, who came to his assistance but took advantage of the situation to occupy the province of Al-Hasa for the empire in 1871—an occupation that lasted 42 years.

History » Second Sa’udi state » The Rashidis

Sa’ud II died in 1875, and, after a brief interval of chaos, ‘Abd Allah (as ‘Abd Allah II) returned to the throne the following year only to find himself powerless against the Rashidi emirs of Jabal Shammar, with their capital at Ḥaʾil. The Rashidis had ruled there since 1836, first as agents for the Sa’ud family, but subsequently they became independent, with strong links to the Ottomans and growing wealth from the caravan trade. Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Rashid (reigned 1869–97) was undoubtedly the dominant figure in Arabian politics when ‘Abd Allah (now as ‘Abd Allah II ibn Sa’ud) returned to Riyadh for his third spell of authority. At first the Rashidis refrained from any forward action, but they soon intervened in the chaotic affairs of the Wahhabi state. And it was not long before ‘Abd Allah was persuaded to join Ibn Rashid at Ḥaʾil (ostensibly as a guest but in truth as a hostage), while a representative of the Rashidis was appointed governor of Riyadh in 1887. ‘Abd Allah eventually was allowed to return to Riyadh and even was named governor of the city in 1889. ‘Abd Allah did not live to enjoy his restoration for long, however; he died in the same year, leaving to his youngest brother, ‘Abd al-Rahman, the almost hopeless task of reviving the dynasty.

‘Abd al-Rahman was soon embroiled in hostilities with the Rashidis. The Battle of Al-Mulaydah (in Al-Qaá¹£im) settled the issue between them decisively in 1891, and, for the second time in a space of 70 years, the Wahhabi state seemed to be completely destroyed. ‘Abd al-Rahman fled with his family to take refuge in Kuwait as the guest of its rulers. Unlike the first Sa’udi regime, which was ended by external conquest, the second Sa’udi state fell chiefly because of internal disputes between members of the royal family.

History » Ibn Sa’ud and the third Sa’udi state

‘Abd al-’Aziz (known commonly as Ibn Sa’ud), the son of the exiled ‘Abd al-Rahman, took advantage of his new location to acquire useful knowledge of world affairs, while the new Rashidi prince, ‘Abd al-’Aziz ibn ‘Abd Mit’ab, alienated the population of Najd. In 1901 the young Ibn Sa’ud (he was about 22 to 26 years old) sallied out of Kuwait with a force of 40 followers on what must have seemed a forlorn adventure. On Jan. 15, 1902, with a select body of only 15 warriors, he scaled the walls of Riyadh, surprised and defeated the Rashidi governor and his escort before the gate of the fort of Mismak (Musmak), and was hailed by the populace as their ruler.

The following years witnessed the development of the struggle by the third Sa’udi state to expand its control once again over most of the Arabian Peninsula and thereby reestablish the glories of the first Sa’udi state in the 18th century. The first challenge was from the Rashidis, whose power was by no means spent and who received substantial help from the Ottomans in men and material. In 1904 Ibn Sa’ud defeated a combined Rashidi and Ottoman force but afterward allowed the Ottomans to place garrisons in central Arabia for one year. Ibn Rashid continued the struggle, but he was killed in battle in 1906, and thenceforth Ibn Sa’ud, who secured the withdrawal of Ottoman troops from Al-Qaá¹£im in 1906, became the undisputed master of central Arabia. Ibn Sa’ud bent himself to the task of regaining the whole realm of his ancestors. He was cautious enough to continue acknowledging Ottoman overlordship (even if only in name), and, by cultivating contacts with Britain, he hoped to balance each power against the other.

Meanwhile, he busied himself with the reorganization of the country’s administration, including the inception of a plan designed to ensure the stability and permanence of his military force. In 1912 he established the first Ikhwan (“Brethren”) colony on the desert wells of Al-Ará¹­awiyyah, peopled entirely by Bedouin. The colony formed a militant cantonment dedicated to the service of God and prince. During the next decade, nearly 100 similar colonies organized around tribal group identity were founded throughout the country, providing Ibn Sa’ud with a formidable military force. At the same time, however, the Sa’udi military also included soldiers recruited from the towns and settled areas.

Ibn Sa’ud’s first major conquest in Najd was the taking of Al-Hasa province from the Ottomans in 1913, although he was again compelled to reaffirm Ottoman sovereignty over all of his territory in 1914. During World War I (1914–18), he was aided by British subsidies, but he managed by adroit diplomacy to be relatively quiescent, though surrounded by enemies. In 1919, however, he struck his first blow, against Ḥusayn ibn ‘Ali of the Hejaz, whose army was annihilated by the Ikhwan. In 1920 Ibn Sa’ud’s son Fayá¹£al captured the province of Asir between the Hejaz and Yemen. In 1921 Ibn Sa’ud defeated the forces of Muhammad ibn Ṭalal, the last Rashidi emir, and annexed the whole of northern Arabia, occupying Al-Jawf and Wadi Al-Sirhan in the following year. Kuwait experienced border raids and a Sa’udi blockade over payment of customs duties. Meanwhile, Fayá¹£al I and ‘Abdullah I, the sons of Ḥusayn ibn ‘Ali, had been placed on the thrones of Iraq and Transjordan, respectively, by the British government. These territories and the Hejaz served as a formidable British-protected cordon around the northern and western borders of the Wahhabi state, though incidents along the border were frequent.

In 1923 the British government invited all the rulers concerned in these sporadic hostilities to attend a conference in Kuwait and if possible to settle their differences. The British also made it clear that the subsidies theretofore paid to Ibn Sa’ud and Ḥusayn ibn ‘Ali would be terminated.

The conference ended in complete disagreement, and in September 1924 the Wahhabis attacked the Hejaz. They captured Al-Ṭaʾif after a brief struggle, but this was followed by a massacre of the city’s male civilians. The Sa’udis occupied Mecca without opposition. Ibn Sa’ud then laid siege to Jiddah and Medina, while Ḥusayn ibn ‘Ali abdicated his throne in favour of his son ‘Ali. By the end of 1925, both Medina and Jiddah had surrendered to the Sa’udis. The Al-’Aqabah–Ma’an district adjacent to the northern Hejaz was occupied by Transjordan to prevent its falling into Wahhabi hands. On Jan. 8, 1926, Ibn Sa’ud, who had adopted the title sultan of Najd in 1921, was proclaimed king of the Hejaz in the Great Mosque of Mecca. In 1927 he also changed his title of sultan to king of Najd and its dependencies, the two parts of his dual kingdom being administered for the time being as separate units. In the same year, the Treaty of Jiddah, negotiated between Ibn Sa’ud and a British special envoy, Sir Gilbert Clayton, placed Sa’udi relations with Great Britain on a permanent footing as the British fully acknowledged Sa’udi independence. A series of Muslim conferences sponsored by the Sa’udis in the Hejaz legitimized their presence as rulers.

Associating with Christian powers put Ibn Sa’ud in an awkward position with the more religious elements in Najd. Moreover, his alleged complaisance over British involvement in and protection of Iraq and Transjordan, both of which the Ikhwan thought ripe for conquest, created tension with his military supporters. Incidents on their frontiers created a state of virtual though undeclared war, in which British aircraft played a part in discouraging Wahhabi incursions. Ibn Sa’ud also on several occasions violently suppressed political and military opposition by the Ikhwan.

In 1928 and 1929, Fayá¹£al al-Dawish, Sulá¹­an ibn Bijad, and other leaders of the Ikhwan, accusing Ibn Sa’ud of betraying the cause for which they had fought and opposing the taxes levied upon their followers, resumed their defiance of the king’s authority. The rebels sought to stop the centralization of power in the hands of the king and keep the purity of Wahhabi practices against what they saw as innovations advocated by Ibn Sa’ud. The majority of the population rallied to the king’s side, and this, with the support of the Najdi ‘ulamaʾ, enabled him to defeat the rebels. The civil war, however, dragged on into 1930, when the rebels were rounded up by the British in Kuwaiti territory and their leaders handed over to the king. With their defeat, power passed definitively into the hands of townspeople rather than the tribes.

Ibn Sa’ud was at last free to give his undivided attention to the development of his country and to the problems of foreign policy that beset him on all sides. Above all, he was concerned to assert and maintain the complete independence of his country and in it the exclusive supremacy of Islam. As long as these fundamental objectives remained in place, he was not only ready to cooperate with all nations but prepared to regard with sympathy some of the practices that had taken root in the Hejaz and other areas as the result of foreign contacts. The ban on music, for example, was progressively circumvented by the radio, which was also used as a tool to unite the kingdom and increase military efficiency. And so the latitudinarian spirit, slowly at first but with ever-increasing momentum, lessened a few of the inhibitions of the puritan regime.

On the other hand, Ibn Sa’ud rigorously opposed the intervention of any foreign government whatever in the internal politics of the regime. Yet, aside from members of the royal family, and Najdi and Hejazi merchants, many of the king’s chief advisers were foreign Muslims. Some of the foreign advisers were political refugees from their homelands and served Ibn Sa’ud for many years.

History » The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia begins properly on Sept. 23, 1932, when by royal decree the dual kingdom of the Hejaz and Najd with its dependencies, administered since 1927 as two separate units, was unified under the name of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The chief immediate effect was to increase the unity of the kingdom and to decrease the possibility of Hejazi separatism, while the name underscored the central role of the royal family in the kingdom’s creation. No attempt was made to change the supreme authority of the king as the absolute monarch of the new regime; indeed, his power was emphasized in 1933 by his choice of his son Sa’ud as heir apparent.

History » The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia » Foreign relations, 1932–53

From the date of its establishment in September 1932, Saudi Arabia enjoyed full international recognition as an independent state, although it did not join the League of Nations.

In 1934 Ibn Sa’ud was involved in war with Yemen over a boundary dispute. An additional cause of the war was Yemen’s support of an uprising by an Asiri prince against Ibn Sa’ud. In a seven-week campaign, the Saudis were generally victorious. Hostilities were terminated by the Treaty of Al-Ṭaʾif, by which the Saudis gained the disputed district. Diplomatic relations with Egypt, severed in 1926 because of an incident on the Meccan pilgrimage, were not renewed until after the death of King Fuʾad of Egypt in 1936.

Fixing the boundaries of the country remained a problem throughout the 1930s. In tribal society, sovereignty was traditionally expressed in the form of suzerainty over certain tribes rather than in fixed territorial boundaries. Hence, Ibn Sa’ud regarded the demarcation of land frontiers with suspicion. Nevertheless, the majority of the frontiers with Iraq, Kuwait, and Jordan had been demarcated by 1930. In the south, no agreement was reached on the exact site of the frontiers with the Trucial States and with the interior of Yemen and Muscat and Oman.

After Saudi Arabia declared its neutrality during World War II (1939–45), Britain and the United States subsidized Saudi Arabia, which declared war on Germany in 1945, and this thus enabled the kingdom to enter the United Nations as a founding member. Ibn Sa’ud also joined the Arab League, but he did not play a leading part in it, since the religious and conservative element in Saudi Arabia opposed cooperation with other Arab states, even when Saudis shared common views, as in opposition to Zionism. In the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, Saudi Arabia contributed only one battalion.

History » The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia » Internal affairs, 1932–53

Although oil had been discovered in Al-Hasa near the shores of the Persian Gulf before World War II, it was not exploited until after 1941. State revenues before the war were derived primarily from the pilgrimage, customs duties, and taxes—which decreased as a result of the world economic depression of the 1930s. After 1944 large numbers of foreign oil workers arrived in the country, and Aramco (the Arabian American Oil Company) was established as a joint venture between a number of American oil companies and the Saudi government. The country was itself unable to supply the oil company with sufficient skilled workers, and oil production was largely managed and undertaken by foreigners. When in 1949 Aramco paid more taxes to the U.S. government than the yield to Saudi Arabia in royalties, the Saudi leadership obtained a new agreement in 1950 that required Aramco to pay an income tax of 50 percent of the net operating income to the Saudis.

The sudden wealth from increased production was a mixed blessing. Cultural life flourished, primarily in the Hejaz, which was the centre for newspapers and radio, but the large influx of outsiders apparently increased xenophobia in a population already noted for its distrust of foreigners. The disturbance of traditional patterns caused by the cultural changes, new wealth from increased production of oil, inflation, and the movement of the population to the major cities was reflected in the government, which had become increasingly wasteful and lavish. Despite the new wealth, extravagant spending led to governmental deficits and foreign borrowing in the 1950s.

Ibn Sa’ud, who had been brought up in the strict puritanical faith of the Wahhabis, viewed this flood of wealth and the consequent changing mores with distaste and bewilderment. He died on Nov. 9, 1953.

History » The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia » Reigns of Sa’ud ibn ‘Abd al-’Aziz and Fayá¹£al (1953–75) » Domestic affairs

Ibn Sa’ud was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Sa’ud, with his second son, Fayá¹£al (the two had different mothers), declared heir apparent. The two half-brothers were remarkably different. Sa’ud had been heir apparent since 1933; he had many ties among the desert tribes. Fayá¹£al, who had lived chiefly in the cities of the Hejaz, had often been abroad in his post as Saudi foreign minister. Sa’ud thus represented what soon would become the ancien régime, while those advocating modernization supported Fayá¹£al.

Meanwhile, money continued to pour into the country. There was an enormous increase in the population of the towns, notably of Riyadh and Jiddah. The character of these urban societies was changed beyond all recognition by a large influx of bourgeoisie from neighbouring countries. The freer lifestyle of immigrant wives was tolerated to a certain degree, but such liberalization was not extended to Saudi women. Roads, schools, hospitals, palaces, apartment buildings, and airports replaced the old alleyways and mud-brick houses. Weaving and other crafts continued, but they were modified by the use of new patterns and materials.

At the royal court, there was constant rivalry between Sa’ud and Fayá¹£al. In March 1958, as a result of pressure from the royal family, Sa’ud issued a decree transferring all executive power to Fayá¹£al. In December 1960, however, Fayá¹£al was obliged to resign as prime minister, and the king himself assumed the office. In 1962–63 Fayá¹£al was once more given executive powers. Finally, on Nov. 2, 1964, the family collectively deposed Sa’ud and proclaimed Fayá¹£al king. The National Guard, the royal princes, and the ‘ulamaʾ had supported Fayá¹£al in the struggle for power against Sa’ud. Fayá¹£al was simply more competent than Sa’ud: it was he who developed the ministries of government and established for the first time an efficient bureaucracy.

History » The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia » Reigns of Sa’ud ibn ‘Abd al-’Aziz and Fayá¹£al (1953–75) » Foreign affairs

Since the frontier between Saudi Arabia and Oman had never been demarcated and there was the possibility of discovering oil in the area, in 1952 Saudi Arabian forces occupied the oasis of Al-Buraymi, which Britain felt belonged to Oman and the emirate of Abu Dhabi (Abu Zabi)—both of which enjoyed British protection. In July 1954 the British and Saudi governments agreed to submit the dispute to an arbitration tribunal. It convened in Geneva in September 1955, but the negotiations broke down, and British-officered forces from Oman and Abu Dhabi reoccupied the oasis. During the Suez Crisis in 1956, Saudi Arabia broke off relations with Britain, and they were not reestablished until 1963. In September 1961, following the Iraqi claim to sovereignty over Kuwait, Saudi Arabia sent troops to Kuwait in response to a request from its ruler.

Since World War II, the United States had become the most influential foreign power in Saudi Arabia. American interest was directed toward the oil industry, which was owned by U.S. companies. In 1960 Saudi Arabia helped found the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The Saudis favoured the United States in the Cold War with the Soviet Union, but they opposed American support of Israel.

As a result of the rise to power of Egypt’s Pan-Arab nationalist president Gamal Abdel Nasser, Saudi relations with Egypt were often strained. Egyptian propaganda made frequent attacks on the Saudi system of royal government. When Egyptian troops were sent to North Yemen in 1962, tension between Saudi Arabia and Egypt became more acute. The Saudis helped the Yemeni royalists against the Egyptian-backed Yemen republic. King Fayá¹£al ultimately agreed to assist Egypt with financial aid, provided Nasser withdrew his troops from Yemen.

Fayá¹£al, leader of the largest conservative Arab state, continued to warn against the danger of communist influence in Arab and Muslim countries. Saudi Arabia also acted against the United States, however, as a result of U.S. assistance to Israel during the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. The Saudis and other Arab oil producers organized a short-lived oil boycott, and the price of oil worldwide quadrupled.

The Saudi government gained direct ownership of one-fourth of Aramco’s crude oil operations in 1973. Ultimately, the Saudis achieved complete control of the company and, therefore, over their chief economic resource. By 1984 the president of Aramco was a Saudi citizen.

Harry St. John Bridger PhilbyWilliam L. OchsenwaldJoshua Teitelbaum

History » The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia » Reign of Khalid (1975–82)

On March 25, 1975, King Fayá¹£al was assassinated; he was succeeded by his half-brother, Crown Prince Khalid, and Prince Fahd was made crown prince. During the new king’s reign, economic and social development continued at an extremely rapid rate, revolutionizing the infrastructure and educational system of the country.

After the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement on March 26, 1979, Saudi Arabia joined most of the other Arab nations in severing diplomatic relations with Egypt. (See Camp David Accords.) The establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 and the subsequent Iran-Iraq War (1980–88) also caused the Saudi monarchy serious concern—owing in no small part to the large Shi’ite minority in eastern Saudi Arabia (the same sect that predominates in Iran) that rioted in 1979 and 1980 in support of Iran’s revolution. The kingdom thereafter supported Iraq in its war with Iran.

The only dramatic domestic challenge to the monarchy since World War II took place in November 1979 when the Ḥaram mosque (Great Mosque) in Mecca, the holiest site in the world for Muslims, was seized by followers of a Saudi religious extremist, Juhayman al-’Utaybi, who had been educated by the Saudi religious establishment and was a former member of the National Guard. Juhayman protested what he saw as the un-Islamic behaviour of the Saudi royal family. The rebels occupied the mosque for two weeks before they were defeated by National Guard troops.

History » The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia » Saudi Arabia under Fahd and Crown Prince ‘Abd Allah (1982–2005)

On June 13, 1982, King Khalid died, and Crown Prince Fahd, who had long been influential in the administration of affairs, succeeded to the throne. Fahd maintained Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy of close cooperation with the United States and increased purchases of sophisticated military equipment from the United States and Britain. In the 1970s and ’80s, the country had become the single largest oil producer in the world, and the government played a major role in determining OPEC policy on oil production and pricing. Oil revenues were crucial to Saudi society as its economy was changed by the extraordinary wealth channeled through the government and derived from oil operations, notwithstanding a downturn in oil prices and production in the mid-1980s. Urbanization, mass public education, the presence of numerous foreign workers, and access to new media all affected Saudi values and mores. While society changed profoundly, however, political processes did not. The political elite came to include more bureaucrats and technocrats, but real power continued in the hands of the dynasty.

History » The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia » Saudi Arabia under Fahd and Crown Prince ‘Abd Allah (1982–2005) » The Persian Gulf War and its aftermath

Saudi political leadership was challenged when Iraq, after having rejected attempted Saudi mediation, reasserted its earlier claims and invaded neighbouring Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, precipitating the Persian Gulf War (1990–91). The Kuwaiti government fled to Saudi Arabia, and King Fahd denounced the Iraqi invaders. Fearing that President á¹¢addam Ḥussein of Iraq might invade Saudi Arabia next (despite Saudi assistance to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War), the Saudis, breaking with tradition, invited the United States and other countries to send troops to protect the kingdom. This was done after Fahd had received the approbation of the kingdom’s highest-ranking religious official, Sheikh ‘Abd al-’Aziz ibn Baz, who agreed that non-Muslims could defend Islam’s holiest places. By mid-November the United States had sent 230,000 troops, which were the most important part of the coalition force that ultimately included soldiers from many other countries. The Saudis adroitly coordinated Arab and Muslim contingents and also established diplomatic ties with China, the Soviet Union, and, later, Iran. King Fahd expanded his goal beyond the protection of Saudi Arabia to include the liberation of Kuwait and, if possible, the overthrow of á¹¢addam Ḥussein.

With approval from Saudi Arabia secured in advance, the coalition, with some 800,000 troops (more than 540,000 from the United States), attacked Iraq by air on Jan. 16–17, 1991. Saudi pilots flew more than 7,000 sorties and were prominent in the battles around the Saudi town of Raʾs al-Khafji. In the four-day ground war that began on February 24, Saudi troops, including the National Guard, helped defeat the Iraqis and drive them out of Kuwait. Despite the clear military victory, the full implications of the war for Saudi Arabia were not immediately known.

William L. OchsenwaldJoshua Teitelbaum

Yet as time wore on, that cardinal event, in which a fellow Arab state threatened to rend years of the royal family’s accomplishments asunder, seemed to be a turning point for many aspects of Saudi political, social, and economic life. A certain malaise set in, with various groups questioning the wisdom of the royal family and demanding accountability. Many citizens questioned how a regime that had spent such vast sums on defense would, in the end, be required to call on the help of non-Muslim outsiders when it felt threatened. In the internal political sphere, two opposition movements emerged, one Islamist and the other liberal and modernist, and forced Fahd to undertake several initiatives.

The economic impact of the Persian Gulf War was considerable, as Saudi Arabia housed and assisted not only foreign troops but also Kuwaiti civilians while at the same time expelling Yemenis and Jordanians, whose countries had supported Iraq diplomatically. Saudi Arabia purchased new weapons from abroad, increased the size of its own armed forces, and gave financial subsidies to a number of foreign governments. Higher Saudi oil production and substantially higher prices in the world oil market provided some compensation for the Saudi economy. However, gross domestic product per capita grew only marginally through the 1990s and in real terms actually fell in some years. A languid economy—in a country perceived as otherwise being extremely wealthy—combined with a growth in unemployment to contribute to the kingdom’s sense of malaise. This disquiet added to a subsequent rise in civil unrest.

One of the first results of the altered situation in Saudi Arabia was King Fahd’s March 1, 1992, issuance of three important decrees: the Basic Law of Government; the Consultative Council Statute; and the Regions Statute. Whereas Fahd was responding to demands for greater governmental accountability, the first and second decrees contained a number of quasi-constitutional clauses. But since the government had often stated that the Qurʾan and the sunnah (practices) of the Prophet were the country’s constitution, he was at pains to state that there had not been a “constitutional vacuum” in Saudi Arabia and that the new laws confirmed existing practice.

The Saudi dilemma was to respond to dissent while making as few actual changes in the status quo as possible. The Basic Law of Government changed the process used to select the heir to the throne by extending candidates to the grandchildren of Ibn Sa’ud, enshrined the king’s right to choose his heir, established a right to privacy, and prohibited infringements of human rights without just cause. The Consultative Council Statute set up an advisory body of 60 (later expanded to 120) members plus a chairman. While convoking a council gave the appearance of a step toward a more representative government, the council actually was appointed by the king and could be dissolved by him at will.

Fahd made it clear that he did not have democracy in mind: “A system based on elections is not consistent with our Islamic creed, which [approves of] government by consultation [shura].”

History » The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia » Saudi Arabia under Fahd and Crown Prince ‘Abd Allah (1982–2005) » The Islamist opposition

After the Persian Gulf War, Saudi Arabia’s Islamist opposition grew more influential. It was not made up of extremists like Juhayman; instead, highly educated academics and Islamic preachers from the lower ranks of the establishment ‘ulamaʾ formed its core. It was a loose agglomeration of various trends, but the main spokesmen were two charismatic preachers, Salman al-’Awdah and Safar al-Ḥawali. Their main grievance was that the regime failed to act according to what the opposition defined as proper Islamic norms in foreign and domestic affairs. Criticism of the government was not allowed in Saudi Arabia, but in September 1992 a group associated with the two clerics published a daring, lengthy, and detailed document called the “Memorandum of Exhortation,” in which they took the regime to task for having an overfinanced military that did not live up to expectations, for glorifying decadent and Westernized lifestyles, and for not allowing dissenting Islamist opinions to be expressed in print and on the airwaves.

The regime tried to rely on clerics with whom it had close ties to reign in the dissidents, but to no avail. The kingdom’s first organized Sunni Islamist opposition group, the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights (CDLR), was established in 1993. The committee was not a Western-style human rights organization—as its English-language sobriquet might suggest—but an Islamist opposition group that demanded that the regime act according to the strict Islamic norms on which the country had been founded. Its original members were clerics and university faculty, and it was quick to disseminate its message via telephone facsimile and, later, the Internet.

The Islamist challenge that faced the regime was an especially troubling one inasmuch as the regime itself had risen to power and maintained its status by appealing to those same Islamic symbols. This attack threatened to undermine the Sa’ud family’s very legitimacy, and the family reacted by outlawing the committee and arresting its members. The group thereafter operated abroad, in London, until it split in 1996.

Meanwhile, in 1994 the first mass Islamist demonstration was held in the central Arabian city of Burayda, following the arrest of al-Ḥawali. It was led by al-’Awdah, who was arrested during the demonstration. While one could not conclude that Islamist opposition was rampant, the fact that such a large demonstration was held at all was an indication that all was not right in the capital. The demonstration was followed by a further crackdown on dissent.

The dissidents condemned the regime’s supposed un-Islamic practices. Of particular concern to them was the presence of U.S. troops and those of other non-Muslim countries on Saudi soil, a presence that—given the proximity of the two holy cities—they deemed not only an affront to their religion but a situation designed only to protect the regime. In November 1995 an explosion rocked the central Riyadh headquarters of a U.S. government group that trained members of the Saudi National Guard. The explosion killed five Americans and two Indians. Three hitherto-unknown organizations took responsibility for the operation, and all of them demanded the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the kingdom. While there was no proven connection between the bombers and the known leaders of the Saudi Islamist movement, in May 1996 Saudi authorities arrested and executed four youths who claimed—in televised confessions—to have been influenced by the CDLR and by the views of an Afghanistan-based Saudi Islamist financier, Osama bin Laden.

In June 1996 a massive explosion ripped through an apartment complex housing U.S. Air Force personnel. Nineteen U.S. servicemembers were killed, and hundreds were injured. This bombing remained unsolved, but U.S. and Saudi authorities suggested that Iranian-backed Saudi Shi’ites were involved.

Although they still actively campaigned from abroad—particularly on the Internet—Islamists maintained a low profile within the kingdom throughout the 1990s. Indications were that Crown Prince ‘Abd Allah (Abdullah)—who had effectively run day-to-day affairs after Fahd suffered a stroke in 1995—had either reached some kind of agreement with Islamist leaders or had been granted some form of grace period by them. In 1999 the government ordered the release of the opposition clerics al-Ḥawali and al-’Awdah, and, although there were no indications of the conditions of their release, the two thereafter refrained from publicly criticizing the royal family.

Far more ominous was the development outside the kingdom of a network, which was associated with bin Laden, known as al-Qaeda. Although there were no direct attacks against the regime either at home or abroad, al-Qaeda staged a number of violent attacks against U.S. targets throughout the world. These attacks culminated in the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, a majority of whose participants were citizens of Saudi Arabia.

History » The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia » Saudi Arabia under Fahd and Crown Prince ‘Abd Allah (1982–2005) » Foreign policy since the end of the Persian Gulf War

Saudi Arabia owed a tremendous debt to the countries whose forces had defeated Iraq, particularly to the United States. The kingdom repaid this debt in part by purchasing large quantities of weapons from American firms and by supporting the U.S.-led peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. In the aftermath of the war, however, the kingdom also sought to cultivate closer relations with other regional powers, particularly with Iran.

Saudi Arabia played a behind-the-scenes role in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations by persuading Syria to attend the October 1991 Madrid Conference, which opened the postwar peace dialogue in the region; Saudi Arabia held observer status at the conference and was active in an effort to soften Syria’s position against Israel, though with little avail. Following the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993, the government overcame its anger at PLO chairman Yasir ‘Arafat for having supported Iraq during the Persian Gulf War and pledged large sums of money to support the development of the Palestinian Authority. In 1994 the Saudis, encouraged by the United States, led the Gulf Cooperation Council in withdrawing from a long-standing Arab League boycott of companies either directly or indirectly doing business with Israel.

With Iraq seemingly chastened by the Persian Gulf War, Saudi worries over regional security turned to Iran, which, since the Islamic revolution, had purportedly sought to export the revolution to other countries in the region with significant Shi’ite populations, such as Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. In strongly opposing Iran, the Saudi government also followed the U.S. policy of “dual containment” (i.e., isolating both Iran and Iraq), in which the United States sought to depict Iran as a “rogue” state that supported terrorism.

By 1996, however, Saudi Arabia’s sense of obligation to the United States for its support during the war had begun to wane. Saudi leaders, particularly the newly powerful ‘Abd Allah, began to develop closer relations with Iran. ‘Abd Allah, keen to put a distance between his policies and the unpopular pro-Western policies of Fahd, apparently assessed that the United States would continue to support the Sa’ud family, despite U.S. antipathy toward Iran, and so turned his attention to improving regional relations. Soon dignitaries from Iran and Saudi Arabia were exchanging visits, and the two countries’ leaders were cooperating in several matters. The kingdom also resolved several long-standing border disputes; these actions included significantly reshaping its border with Yemen.

In the end, however, the greatest hurdle to U.S.-Saudi relations came from within the kingdom—from the Saudi citizens who participated in the September 11 attacks and other acts of terrorism against the United States. The perception of many Americans was that the royal family, through its long and close relations with the Wahhabi sect, had laid the groundwork for the growth of militant groups like al-Qaeda and that after the attacks had done little to help track the militants or ward off future atrocities. That viewpoint was reinforced when in 2003 the Saudi government refused to support or to participate in the Iraq War between U.S.-led forces and Iraq, an action seen by some as an attempt by the royal family to placate the kingdom’s Islamist radicals. That same year Saudi and U.S. government officials agreed to withdraw all U.S. military forces from Saudi soil. In December 2005 Saudi Arabia formally joined the World Trade Organization.

Joshua Teitelbaum

History » The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia » Reign of King ‘Abd Allah from 2005

The country underwent a peaceful power transition in 2005, when, following Fahd’s death on August 1, ‘Abd Allah ascended the throne. The new king subsequently introduced a program of moderate reform to address a number of challenges facing Saudi Arabia. The country’s continued reliance on oil revenue was of particular concern, and among the economic reforms he introduced were limited deregulation, foreign investment, and privatization. He originally sought to placate extreme Islamist voices—many of which sought to end the Sa’udi dynasty’s rule—yet the spectre of anti-Saudi and anti-Western violence within the country’s borders led him for the first time to order the use of force by the security services against some extremists. At the same time, in 2005 ‘Abd Allah responded to demands for greater political inclusiveness by holding the country’s first municipal elections, based on adult male suffrage.

Uncertainty surrounding succession in the kingdom was a further source of domestic concern, and late the following year ‘Abd Allah issued a new law refining the country’s succession policies. Among the changes was the establishment of an Allegiance Commission, a council of Saudi princes meant to participate in the selection of a crown prince—previously the task of the king alone—and to oversee a smooth transition of power. In February 2009 ‘Abd Allah enacted a series of broad governmental changes, which affected areas such as the judiciary, armed forces, and various ministries. Notable among his decisions were the replacement of senior individuals within the judiciary and the religious police with more moderate candidates and the appointment of the country’s first female deputy minister, who was charged with overseeing girls’ education.

Additional Reading » Land and people

Overviews and general reference works include David E. Long, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (1997); J.E. Peterson, Historical Dictionary of Saudi Arabia (1993); Hussein Hamza Bindagji, Atlas of Saudi Arabia (1978), with thematic, regional, and city maps. Mecca is the subject of F.E. Peters, Mecca: A Literary History of the Muslim Holyland (1994); and Gerald De Gaury, Rulers of Mecca (1954, reissued 1980). Also useful is Angelo Pesce, Jiddah: Portrait of an Arabian City, rev. ed. (1977). An anthropological approach is taken in Soraya Altorki, Women in Saudi Arabia: Ideology and Behavior Among the Elite (1986); and William Lancaster, The Rwala Bedouin Today (1981), a case study. Also of importance are Donald Powell Cole, Nomads of the Nomads: The Al Murrah Bedouin of the Empty Quarter (1975, reissued 1988); and Motoko Katakura, Bedouin Village: A Study of a Saudi Arabian People in Transition (1977). Architecture and art are treated in G.R.D. King, The Historical Mosques of Saudi Arabia (1986), a study of mosque architecture; and Safeya Binzagr, Saudi Arabia: An Artist’s View of the Past (1979), a pictorial perspective of Saudi Arabia’s culture and people.

Additional Reading » Economy and government

The economy is examined in Ali D. Johany, Michel Berne, and J. Wilson Mixon, Jr., The Saudi Arabian Economy (1986); Adnan M. Abdeen and Dale N. Shook, The Saudi Financial System, in the Context of Western and Islamic Finance (1984); A. Reza S. Islami and Rostam Mehraban Kavoussi, The Political Economy of Saudi Arabia (1984); John R. Presley, A Guide to the Saudi Arabian Economy, 2nd ed. (1989); Arthur N. Young, Saudi Arabia: The Making of a Financial Giant (1983), a historical survey of the impact of oil; Tim Niblock (ed.), State, Society, and Economy in Saudi Arabia (1982); Fouad Al-Farsy, Saudi Arabia: A Case Study in Development, rev. and updated (1989); and Donald M. Moliver and Paul J. Abbondante, The Economy of Saudi Arabia (1980). Policy studies are found in Ragaei El Mallakh, Saudi Arabia, Rush to Development: Profile of an Energy Economy and Investment (1982); Hassan Hamza Hajrah, Public Land Distribution in Saudi Arabia (1982), on transformation of land ownership; Robert E. Looney, Saudi Arabia’s Development Potential: Application of an Islamic Growth Model (1982); William B. Quandt, Saudi Arabia in the 1980s: Foreign Policy, Security, and Oil (1981), a diplomatic study; and Robert D. Crane, Planning the Future of Saudi Arabia: A Model for Achieving National Priorities (1978), with a summary of the five-year plans. A more recent study of Saudi oil policy is Nawaf E. Obaid, The Oil Kingdom at 100: Petroleum Policymaking in Saudi Arabia (2000). Further bibliographic information can be found in Hans-Jürgen Philipp, Saudi Arabia: Bibliography on Society, Politics, Economics (1984), in English and German; and Frank A. Clements, Saudi Arabia, rev. ed. (1988).

Additional Reading » Cultural life

A full scholarly history of the Muslim pilgrimage—the hajj—still remains to be written, but its history in the 16th and 17th centuries is admirably analyzed in Suraiya Faroqhi, Pilgrims and Sultans: The Hajj Under the Ottomans, 1517–1683 (1994); the 20th-century hajj is the subject of David Edwin Long, The Hajj Today: A Survey of the Contemporary Muslim Pilgrimage (1979). The pilgrimage as reflected in literature is very well presented in F.E. Peters, The Hajj: The Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca and the Holy Places (1994). Politics and society in the home of the hajj, Mecca, in the 18th and early 19th centuries are admirably covered in William Ochsenwald, Religion, Society, and the State in Arabia: The Hijaz Under Ottoman Control, 1840–1908 (1984).

Women’s literature is the focus of Saddeka Arebi, Women and Words in Saudi Arabia: The Politics of Literary Discourse (1994). A historical approach to women in the kingdom is taken in Eleanor Abdella Doumato, Getting God’s Ear: Women, Islam, and Healing in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf (2000).

Additional Reading » History

The most important historical works include Kamal Salibi, A History of Arabia (1980); Abdelgadir Mahmoud Abdalla, Sami Al-Sakkar, and Richard T. Mortel (eds.), Sources for the History of Arabia, 2 vol. (1979), symposium proceedings; and H.St.J.B. Philby, Sa’udi Arabia (1955, reprinted 1972). A more interpretive discussion is presented in Joseph Kostiner, “Tracing the Curves of Modern Saudi History,” Asian and African Studies, 19(2):219–244 (July 1985). R. Bayly Winder, Saudi Arabia in the Nineteenth Century (1965, reprinted 1980), remains the definitive work on that period. The life of Ibn Sa’ud, the founder of the modern Saudi state, is discussed sympathetically in Mohammed Almana, Arabia Unified: A Portrait of Ibn Saud, rev. ed. (1982). Other treatments include David Holden and Richard Johns, The House of Saud (1981), a detailed history of the years 1902–80; Hafiz Wahba, Arabian Days (1964); and Ameen Rihani, Ibn Sa’oud of Arabia: His People and His Land (1928, reprinted 1983). Christine Moss Helms, The Cohesion of Saudi Arabia: Evolution of Political Identity (1981), combines political geography, history, and diplomacy for the early 20th century. Early Saudi foreign relations are discussed in Jacob Goldberg, The Foreign Policy of Saudi Arabia: The Formative Years, 1902–1918 (1986). Works covering the same time include John S. Habib, Ibn Sa’ud’s Warriors of Islam: The Ikhwan of Najd and Their Role in the Creation of the Sa’udi Kingdom, 1910–1930 (1978); Madawi Al Rasheed, Politics in an Arabian Oasis: The Rashidi Tribal Dynasty (1991); Joshua Teitelbaum, The Rise and Fall of the Hashimite Kingdom of Arabia (2001); and Clive Leatherdale, Britain and Saudi Arabia, 1925–1939: The Imperial Oasis (1983). Joseph Kostiner, The Making of Saudi Arabia, 1916–1936: From Chieftaincy to Monarchical State (1993), is the best scholarly discussion of the kingdom’s formative years. The kingdom in the reigns of Sa’ud and Fayá¹£al is covered in Sarah Yizraeli, The Remaking of Saudi Arabia (1997), which follows Kostiner’s approach. Histories of Aramco and U.S.-Saudi foreign policy include Irvine H. Anderson, Aramco, the United States, and Saudi Arabia: A Study of the Dynamics of Foreign Oil Policy, 1933–1950 (1981); Aaron David Miller, Search for Security: Saudi Arabian Oil and American Foreign Policy, 1939–1949 (1980); and Robert Vitalis, America’s Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier (2006). Recent important studies of Saudi politics and Saudi-U.S. relations since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 include Dore Gold, Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism (2003); Rachel Bronson, Thicker than Oil: America’s Uneasy Partnership with Saudi Arabia (2006); and Thomas Lippman, Inside the Mirage: America’s Fragile Partnership with Saudi Arabia (2004). Two important internal issues in the post-World War II period are analyzed in Ayman Al-Yassini, Religion and State in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (1985); and Alexander Bligh, From Prince to King: Royal Succession in the House of Saud in the Twentieth Century (1984). A later study of the succession is Simon Henderson, After King Fahd: Succession in Saudi Arabia, 2nd ed. (1995). More on internal issues, such as political dissent, can be found in Mordechai Abir, Saudi Arabia: Government, Society, and the Gulf Crisis (1993); Mamoun Fandy, Saudi Arabia and the Politics of Dissent (1999); and Joshua Teitelbaum, Holier than Thou: Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Opposition (2000).

William L. OchsenwaldJoshua Teitelbaum

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Saudi Arabia