“Liberal enclaves: A royal attempt to bypass clerical power”, in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 1979-2009: Evolution of a Pivotal State, published by The Middle East Institute in Washington DC in Oct 2009.
Liberal enclaves: A royal attempt to bypass clerical power
Within the first months of Abdullah’s term as king, the Saudi government pursued a number of policies to improve the kingdom’s economic profile. Saudi Arabia became a member of the World Trade Organisation, the limits were raised on foreign stakes in sectors such as banking, telecoms services, wholesale, retail and franchising. These reforms were intended to answer economic priorities of diversifying from dependence on oil revenues, finding jobs for young Saudis and opening up foreign investment. But they had another function too, one that was more transparent in a centrepiece of the early period of Abdullah’s reign: the establishment of “economic cities” where, freed from the influence of the Wahhabi clerics, Saudis would live, work and study as productive members of a modern economy. Continue reading Saudi Arabia’s ‘liberal enclaves’