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Heightened fears of terrorism, surging oil prices, and an unsettled Middle East have meant that Saudi Arabia has once again become the focus of international concern. The accession of King Abdullah in 2005 comes at a key moment in the country's history. The tensions between the Kingdom's regional and global roles intertwine with the dilemmas being faced at home. But for most outside observers, the country remains stubbornly opaque. This volume is the first to bring together in a systematic way such a wide range of expertise in a tightly integrated project representing the state of the art, drawing on the insights of an exceptional cast of leading scholars from Europe, the US and the Middle East.
In a set of original and interlocking studies, contemporary trends in Saudi politics, society, economy and international relations are examined, exploring their roots as well as likely future development, in the light of 'September 11,' the Iraq crisis, and changing global politics. The book integrates first-hand empirical investigation with the social science tools of politics, political economy and international relations - thus illuminating wider theoretical questions in these fields. The multiplicity of perspectives and areas of expertise brought to bear on the subject allows a balanced understanding to emerge of Saudi Arabia's dynamics, challenges, and responses.