This paper gives a detailed, insider's look into the history and intricacies of the royal politics of the Āl Saﺀūd examining the factors that characterize and define the course of modern Saudi Arabia from tribal affiliations to Wahhābī muṭāwﺩah and muftis. The author examines the internal power struggles amidst the famous ‘Sudeiri Seven’ and their rival claimants to the throne as well as repercussions of the system and its underpinnings on the population as a whole. Oil, power‐politics, alliances with the United States and the particular means and apparatuses of control emanating from the Najd all factor in a regime that has marginalized significant sectors of society from inhabitants of the Ḥijāz to the Shīﺀah of the Eastern Province and which may or may not survive the effects of a population boom and high unemployment that coincide with an ever‐increasing number of claimants to a rule predicated on the ‘custodianship’ of Islam's two holiest cities.

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