Latest Issue

The Saudi enigma

Saudi oil drives globalisation, Saudi money drives part of the Islamic revolt against it. Have the princes lost control of the religious fervour which underpins their rule and become a liability for the west?

By James Buchan   November 2001

On 12th january 1980, at about the time a 22-year-old Osama bin Laden set off on his first journey to Afghanistan, Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi interior minister, held a press conference in Riyadh. The Saudi royal family had just passed through the most perilous few weeks of its existence, after more than 400 Islamic extremists seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca and held it for a fortnight against vastly superior government forces. Naif was anxious to show the world that his family, the al Saud (Saud’s clan) was back in control.

On a table in front of…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect