As possessor of a quarter of the world's oil reserves and host to two of the holiest cities in Islam, Saudi Arabia is an integral part of the cultural, economic, and political well-being of the Middle East. From Persian Gulf security, to Middle Eastern politics, to the international energy industry, events in this desert kingdom strongly impact the stability of the region. This comprehensive resource analyzes contemporary Saudi Arabia—its modern history, the role of Islam, and the nature of Saudi foreign relations—and reveals how these and other factors dictate and shape the country's current security policies and priorities.
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Middle East expert and author Mathew Gray has organized the work into six sections: the first provides an historical overview of the region from the mid-1700s to the 1980s; the second explores the Saudi political and security system; the third discusses Saudi-U.S. relations; the fourth looks at Saudi relations with the Gulf region and the wider Middle East; and the fifth considers Saudi Arabia's role in Sunni extremism and terrorism. The final chapter looks at emerging security threats for Saudi Arabia. The book includes an overview of future challenges and risks including climate change, water shortages, and problems of Saudi identity and social dispersion.