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Saudi Arabia: Legitimacy and Stability
April 6-7, 2005

In Saudi Arabia, the kingdom's governance is buffeted by questions of both legitimacy and stability. In a region where "democratization" and the claim to popular sovereignty are showing signs of vitality, the House of Saud essentially resists both. This rejection of, or incremental adaptation to, modernizing politics, however, is viewed through sharply divergent norms externally and internally. Governance issues are strongly shaped here by the post-9/11 world: many prominent Saudis are alleged to have supported al Qaeda, which itself is mounting perhaps the most direct challenge to the Saudi regime.

Among the areas explored by the participants listed below are the regime's use of, and challenge from, Wahabbism and other forms of political Islam; its attempts at internal reform or adjustment; its regional relationships, including oil politics; and the effects of the Iraq war on stability and inter-Arab leadership in the Gulf.


Abdulaziz Al-Fahad,
historian and attorney, Riyahd

David Commins,
Dickinson College

Eleanor Doumato,
Watson Institute, Brown University

Michael Herb,
Georgia State University

Gwenn Okruhlik,
University of Texas

Marsha Pripstein Posusney,
Bryant University and Watson Institute,
Brown University

Jean-Francois Seznec,
Columbia University

Khalid Al-Dakhil,
King Saud University




Massachusetts Institute of Technology