In This Review

Salman’s Legacy: The Dilemmas of a New Era in Saudi Arabia
Salman’s Legacy: The Dilemmas of a New Era in Saudi Arabia
Edited by Madawi al-Rasheed
Oxford University Press, 2018, 320 pp

The merit of this collection of essays comes from the critical stance it takes toward the Saudi ruling family. In her contribution, Rasheed argues that the top-down, arbitrary power acquired by the royal family over the past several decades cannot be explained by looking at the rational interests of the rulers and the ruled; rather, it involves religious and mystical factors. She and other contributors suggest that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plans to distance the regime from Wahhabism, the fundamentalist religious sect, may severely weaken the dynasty. A brief contribution by the analyst Cole Bunzel reveals the deep reserves of respect that most senior members of the House of Saud still have for extremist Wahhabi leaders. All the contributors accept that there are direct links between Wahhabism and violent jihadism, but as Rasheed points out, many, including the United States, have often chosen to overlook them. In the only chapter on the kingdom’s economy, the political scientist Steen Hertog explores the structural difficulties that the crown prince’s proposed reforms will encounter, pointing out that Saudi Arabia suffers from a combination of high costs and low productivity.