From the Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter who has spent the last thirty years writing about Saudi Arabia—as diplomatic correspondent, foreign editor, and then publisher of The Wall Street Journal.
Through observation, anecdote, extensive interviews, and analysis Karen Elliot House navigates the maze in which Saudi citizens find themselves trapped and reveals the mysterious nation that is the world’s largest exporter of oil, critical to global stability, and a source of Islamic terrorists.
In her probing and sharp-eyed portrait, we see Saudi Arabia, one of the last absolute monarchies in the world, considered to be the final bulwark against revolution in the region, as threatened by multiple fissures and forces, its levers of power controlled by a handful of elderly Al Saud princes with an average age of 77 years and an extended family of some 7,000 princes. Yet at least 60 percent of the increasingly restive population they rule is under the age of 20. The author writes that oil-rich Saudi Arabia has become a rundown welfare state. The public pays no taxes; gets free education and health care; and receives subsidized water, electricity, and energy. House makes clear that the royal family also uses Islam’s requirement of obedience to Allah—and by extension to earthly rulers—to perpetuate Al Saud rule.
In House’s assessment of Saudi Arabia’s future, she compares the country today to the Soviet Union before Mikhail Gorbachev arrived and she discusses what the next generation of royal princes might bring. A riveting book—informed, authoritative, illuminating—about a country that could well be on the brink, and an in-depth examination of what all this portends for Saudi Arabia’s future, and for our own.