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This updated edition analyses the challenges, both internal and external, facing Saudi Arabia in the twenty-first century. Two new chapters discuss the political, economic and social developments in the aftermath of 9/11, painting a vivid picture of a country shocked by terrorism and condemned by the international community. Madawi Al-Rasheed reveals that fragmentation of royal politics, a failing economy and fermenting Islamist dissent posed serious threats to state and society in 2001. She assesses the consequent state reforms introduced under pressure of terrorism, international scrutiny and a social mobilisation of men, women and minorities struggling to shape their future against a background of repression and authoritarian rule. While Saudi Arabia is still far from establishing a fourth state, there are signs that the people are ready for a serious change that will lead them to a state of institutions rather than princes.
Madawi Al-Rasheed is Professor of Anthropology of Religion at King's College, London. She specialises in Saudi history, politics, religion and society. Her recent publications include Contesting the Saudi State (2007) and Kingdom without Borders (2008).