The Son King
Reform and Repression in Saudi Arabia
A sharp, authoritative account of MBS’s Saudi Arabia, where reform and ruthless repression go hand in hand.
In 2018, journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi regime operatives, shocking the international community and tarnishing the reputation of the kingdom’s reformist young crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman. In this compelling book, Madawi Al-Rasheed examines the prince’s Saudi Arabia as a world of reform and repression. She challenges common wisdom that repression is inevitable, and dismisses defunct views that ‘Oriental despotism’ is the only path to genuine reform in the country.
Instead, Al-Rasheed argues that the current wave of unprecedented repression has resulted from the crown prince’s consolidation of his own personal power, without the traditional consensus of royal family members and influential groups. Bin Salman’s domestic reforms have been divisive, and his adoption of populist nationalism, together with his repression of diverse critical voices—religious scholars, feminists and professionals—have failed to silence a vibrant Saudi society, including its articulate and connected youth. Many have left the country to seek freedom, equality and dignity in safe havens abroad. While the regime continues to pursue them overseas and punish their families at home, determined dissidents persist in their struggle against one of the most repressive monarchies in the Arab world.
Madawi Al-Rasheed is Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics Middle East Centre. She is the author and editor of several books on Saudi Arabia, most recently Salman's Legacy: The Dilemmas of a New Era in Saudi Arabia, also published by Hurst.