Case | HBS Case Collection | April 2014 (Revised September 2014)

Saudi Arabia: Finding Stability after the Arab Spring

by Richard H.K. Vietor and Hilary White


In 2014, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was juggling several balls. At home, there were pressures for liberalization, from women and youth, and pressures for more conservative religious observance and policy from the Muslim "ulema." His domestic economic policy, which entailed diversification, infrastructure construction, education and a move towards a "knowledge economy," remained difficult to implement because of oil's immense role in the GDP, trade, and the budget. Internationally, Saudi Arabia's Middle East region was a mess; troubles as always with Israel and Palestine, but also with Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Iran. In all of this, a central question loomed: could Saudi Arabia modernize without westernizing?


Vietor, Richard H.K., and Hilary White. "Saudi Arabia: Finding Stability after the Arab Spring." Harvard Business School Case 714-053, April 2014. (Revised September 2014.)