Nationalism and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Brandon Friedman, director of research at MDC, published an article in "Bustan: A Middle East Book Review", reviewing Ben Hubbard, David B. Ottaway, and Madawi Al-Rasheed's books on nationalism and development in Saudi Arabia.


"This essay examines three new books about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) by focusing on the role of Saudi nationalism in the Kingdom. This essay seeks to frame the discussion of nationalism in historical terms, identifying how it represents a new formula for political legitimacy in the Kingdom. Nationalism is being used by the monarchy to reconstruct and mobilize the Saudi nation. The Saudi state would like to see Saudi youth and Saudi women participate in creating a new market-driven economy in the Kingdom. And nationalism is also being used to mobilize Saudis in support of transforming the defense of the Kingdom from what the monarchy perceives as the nation’s enemies. These changes to the economy and security of the Kingdom are based on a reimagining of Saudi identity. Therefore, the emergence of a distinct Saudi nationalism entails not only political change but social and cultural change, as well."