ASSESSMENTS

Why Saudi Arabia is Embracing a New Nationalism

MIN READJan 4, 2019 | 10:00 GMT

Lebanon's Christian Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai (C) arrives for a first-time meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Nov. 14, 2017, in Riyadh.

(FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia, long-known for a society, culture and government steeped in conservative Islamist policies, has begun introducing a new nationalism that allows limited expressions of other faiths. The monarchy is hoping that by encouraging a broader nationalism, it can create space for modernization-focused social and economic reforms, which are a key element of the country's broader Vision 2030 plan. But while reducing hard-line Islam's role in the kingdom has its benefits, establishing a more secular atmosphere also risks inviting a new nationalist resistance to domestic government policies and impose new constraints on Saudi foreign policy. ...

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