Saudi Arabia: Transformation of Power and Policy

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2019-63-4-59-67

G. Kosach (,
Russian State University for Humanities, Faculty of History, Political Science and Law, Miusskaya Pl., 6, Moscow, 125993, Russian Federation

Abstract. The period after 2015, when Salman bin Abdel Aziz came to the throne of Saudi Arabia, became the era of deep changes in the system of Saudi power as well as in the spheres of economy and policy. The attempt to overcome a “vagueness” of power, which was connected with a big number of fractures in the ruling family, promoted the rise of Prince Salman who occupied the leading positions in the national “ruling class” and began to control uniformed services. The project of socio-economic transformation “Vision: 2030” proposed by the Prince as “a reform of power”, was supported by the national “educated class” considering it as a possibility to realize their own aspirations connected with diversification of economy, elimination of addiction to oil, expansion of the private sector’s activity, amelioration of life quality, women’s emancipation and reduction of religious establishment influence. This support strengthens Mohammed bin Salman’s positions in the ruling dynasty, which was confirmed during the anticorruption company and by consequences of international scandal around “Jamal Khashoggi affair” inside Saudi Arabia. The support mentioned above was not shaken by cruel methods against those who stand for more freedom of speech inside Saudi Arabia. The article also analyzes the reasons of the Saudi foreign policy “tightening” explained by the Saudi political establishment as a result of the “Arab Spring”, Iranian expansion policy, the task to oppose regional terror and ineffectiveness of President Obama’s policy. For Riyadh, the development of relations with President Trump’s administration is “a reanimation” of relationship with its strategic partner and “an instrument to curb the Iranian regime”, despite the contradictions with this administration appearing on the question of Jerusalem in particular. In its turn, Saudi-Russian relations, in spite of the mutual interest in its development, are not able to overcome the existing differences concerning the most burning issues of the Middle East. The amelioration of economic relations which was marked during King Selman’s visit to Moscow in October 2017 is fragile because historically it is not based on a diverse system of bilateral contacts as in the American case.

Keywords: Saudi Arabia, prince Muhammad bin Salman, “Vision: 2030”, Saudi “educated class”, Saudi foreign policy, Iran, United States, Russia


1. Al-Rashed A.R. Trump and His Arab and Iranian Rivals. Asharq Al-Awsat, 27.08.2018 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 27.08.2018).

2. Vision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: 2030 (In Arabic). Available at: (accessed 27.04.2016).

3. Saudi Crown Prince Discusses Trump, Aramco, Arrests: Transcript. Available at: (accessed 06.10.2018).

4. Muhammad bin Salman: we will finish with extremism. Asharq Al-Awsat, 25.10.2017 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 26.10.2017).

5. Saudi Arabia announced the death of Khashoggi. Asharq Al-Awsat, 20.10.2018 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 20.10.2018).

6. Kirkpatrick D. Saudi Crown Prince’s Mass Purge Upends a Longstanding System. The New York Times, 05.11.2017. Available at: (accessed 06.11.2017).

7. The Basic Law of Governance. Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 15.10.2018).

8. The Allegiance Council Law. Asharq Al-Awsat, 20.10.2006 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 26.10.2018).

9. Correction of the Basic Law of Governance. Al-Hayat, 21.06.2017 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 22.06.2017).

10. Transcript: Interview with Muhammad bin Salman. The Economist, 06.01.2016. Available at: (accessed 07.01.2016).

11. 88% of Saudi population live in towns. Asharq Al-Awsat, 13.05.2013 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 14.05.2013).

12. Muhammad bin Salman: the Middle East is our Europe. Asharq Al-Awsat, 25.10.2018 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 25.10.2018).

13. The revolution of 4 November. Al-Watan, 05.11.2017 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 12.11.2017).

14. Khashoggi and coulisses of comedy. Al-Watan, 09.10.2018 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 10.11.2017).

15. Muhammad bin Salman: we will not permit to appear a new Iranian Hitler. Asharq Al-Awsat, 25.11.2017 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 26.11.2017).

16. Al-Jubair A. Is it possible that Iran will change? Asharq Al-Awsat, 20.11.2016 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 26.11.2017).

17. Al-Jubair: No negotiations with Qatar. Al-Arabiya, 28.06.2017 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 28.06.2017).

18. It is Time to End the GCC? Asharq Al-Awsat, 09.12.2018 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 10.12.2018).

19. Trump and Mohammed Ben Salman confirmed the necessity to oppose Iran. CNN Arabic, 15.03.2017 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 16.03.2015).

20. Trump choose Saudi Arabia for his first foreign visit. Al-Hayat, 05.05.2017 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 05.05.2017).

21. Common Saudi-American Declaration SABC Online Newspaper, 14.08.2017 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 15.08.2017).

22. President Donald J. Trump’s New Strategy on Iran. White House, 13.10.2017. Available at: (accessed 15.10.2017).

23. Al-Rashed A.R. US Enters Syrian Conflict Asharq Al-Awsat, 16.01.2018 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 16.01.2018).

24. What the Anarchy creates Trump? Asharq Al-Awsat, 22.12.2018 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 23.12.2018). 

25. Al-Rashed A. R. How we began applauding Israel? Asharq Al-Awsat, 20.01.2015 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 20.01.2015).

26. King Salman: transferee the embassy to Jerusalem is a provocation for Moslems. Al-Arabiya, 28.06.2017 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 05.12.2017).

27. Althaydi M. About the way to Jerusalem. Asharq Al-Awsat, 11.12.2017 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 11.12.2017).

28. The Press Declaration of Russian and Saudi Ministers of Foreign Affairs concerning the results of Summit negotiations. President of Russian Federation, 05.10.2017 (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 06.10.2017).

29. Safronov I., Dzhordzhevich A. Er-Riyad poluchit ognya, raket i granat [Riyadh will receive fire, rackets and grenades]. Kommersant, 06.10.2017. Available at: (accessed 06.10.2017).

30. Vladimir Kozhin informed about the negotiations with Ankara and Riyadh according S-400. Kommersant, 07.08.2018 (In Russ.)] Available at: (accessed 07.08.2018).

31. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques: Peace in the region will be if Iran stop its policy. Asharq Al-Awsat, 05.10.2017 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 05.10.2017).

32. Al-Rashed A.R. Saudi Arabia’s Armament Policy. Asharq Al-Awsat, 10.10.2017 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 10.10.2017).

33. Al-Dosri S. Saudi Arabia and Russia are not enemies. Asharq Al-Awsat, 05.10.2017 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 05.10.2017).

34. Sherbel’ G. After the meeting in Kremlin. Asharq Al-Awsat, 06.10.2017 (In Arabic) Available at: (accessed 06.10.2017)

Registered in System SCIENCE INDEX

For citation:
Kosach G. Saudi Arabia: Transformation of Power and Policy. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2019, vol. 63, no. 4, pp. 59-67.

Comments (0)

No comments

Add comment






Dear authors! Please note that in the VAK List of peer-reviewed scientific journals, in which the main scientific results of dissertations for the degree of candidate and doctor of sciences should be published for the “MEMO Journal” the following specialties are recorded:
economic sciences:
5.2.5. World Economy.
5.2.1. Economic Theory
5.2.3. Regional and Branch Economics
political sciences:
5.5.4. International Relations
5.5.1. History and Theory of Politics
5.5.2. Political Institutions, Processes, Technologies


Current Issue
2024, vol. 68, No. 7
Topical Themes of the Issue:
  • The Supporting Structure of Global Security
  • Institutional Features of the Fourth Energy Transition
  • The Evolution of Modern German Christian Democracy
  • The Monarchies of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia
Submit an Article
The Editorial Board invites authors to write analytical articles on the following topics:
  • changes in the processes of globalization in modern conditions
  • formation of the new world order
  • shifts in civilization at the stage of transition to a digital society

The editors are also interested in publishing synthesis articles / scientific reviews revealing the main trends in the development of certain regions of the world - Latin America, Africa, South Asia, etc.