Oil in Saudi Arabian culture and politics: From tribal poets to Al-Qaeda’s ideologues

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


In the study of Saudi Arabia many scholars discuss and analyze the economic, social, and political effects of oil, but they say curiously little about the place of oil in Saudi political debates and discourse. Lying at the core of the dramatic transformation that the country has witnessed since the mid-twentieth century, oil has not been analyzed in the ways the commodity itself is invoked and used by the state to garner legitimacy nor as a topic in contesting the regime by its various critics and opponents. Yet it features prominently in cultural and political debates. Most studies treat oil from the perspective of the political economy, namely, in which ways it structures governance and political life, and more specifically how revenues accruing from its production allow the state to buy social peace through co-optation of dissent and the creation of a generous system of entitlements. What often ensues from such approaches is a discussion of the so-called resource curse that plagues rentier states and whether the price of oil is sufficiently high to enable the state to persist in its entitlement policies or whether a political crisis is in the offing because the price is too low and therefore the entitlements are unsustainable. In other words, the question of the survival and longevity of the Saudi regime is often the central question, and this is invariably tied to the projected reserves and price of oil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSaudi Arabia in Transition
Subtitle of host publicationInsights on Social, Political, Economic and Religious Change
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781139047586
ISBN (Print)9781107006294
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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