Creating Citizens out of Subjects: Saudi Arabia Gets Down to Social Engineering

Jan 22, 2018 | 09:00 GMT

Saudi women shop in a mall in Riyadh.

Saudi women shop in a mall in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia's royal leaders have launched social engineering operations to try to produce a new Saudi citizen for the 21st century.



  • Riyadh has emulated Abu Dhabi in unveiling a vision to transform Saudi Arabia, but it is likely to encounter similar challenges to the United Arab Emirates.
  • Vision 2030 will help in some areas but could also exacerbate regional tensions and increase the divide between the rich and the poor.
  • Saudi reformers hope to overhaul the education system, but their efforts might do little to provide students with the skills necessary for the future.

Constructing a cohesive nation-state over the tribes and sects conquered by the House of Saud has always been a work in progress for Saudi Arabia. Different strategies have been tried over the decades, including the current emphasis on puritanical Wahhabism. Now, as part of a series of reforms dubbed Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia's leaders are seeking to create a new, modern society composed of citizens equipped with the skills to succeed in the modern global economy....

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