Saudi Arabia: Finding Stability after the Arab Spring
In 2015, King Salman of Saudi Arabia was juggling several balls as the kingdom's new monarch. At home, there were pressures for liberalization, from women and youth, and pressures for more conservative religious observance and policy from the Muslim "ulema." His domestic economic policy, which entailed diversification, infrastructure construction, education and a move towards a "knowledge economy," remained difficult to implement because of oil's immense role in the GDP, trade, and the budget. Internationally, Saudi Arabia's Middle East region was a mess; troubles as always with Israel and Palestine, but also with Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Iran. In all of this, a central question loomed: could Saudi Arabia modernize without westernizing?