by Steffen HertogNew recruits hold up victory signs as they gather at the Saudi Arabian National Guard training centre in Dhahran, 28 August 1990. Source: TOTW, FlickrIn the pre-oil era, the states of the Arabian Peninsula were embryonic and social formations like tribes and merchant classes enjoyed high levels of collective autonomy. Oil-based state formation has reversed the pattern: states are omnipresent and social groups have become subservient to and dependent on them.
Saudi Arabia has moved from political paralysis to rapid action under the de facto leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He has introduced a raft of ambitious economic reform plans, including the kingdom’s first multiyear fiscal adjustment program, plans for the partial IPO of the national oil company Saudi Aramco, a wide-ranging privatization scheme, and several programs for state investments in new industries.