The Saudi government has made tremendous progress in liberalizing its economy. The Saudi legal system is more business friendly now than ever and many of the legislative changes have occurred in just the past 5 years. Economic obstacles preventing Americans from further investing in Saudi Arabia’s private sector have largely been resolved in theory. This is good news for U.S. policy makers. Economic modernization is believed to bring regional and domestic stability. However, Saudi Arabia has been trending towards becoming a more authoritarian regime. The Saudi Royal authority has supplanted powers allocated for religious authority in the name of economic development. The instability of an authoritarian regime known for its human rights violations and ongoing wars with neighboring countries is not liked by investors. U.S. policy makers should seek out a policy which minimizes religious backlash to the mechanisms of the economic transition while not allowing the monarchy to consolidate more power. The United States must balance accountability for human rights while fostering the modernization of the Saudi economy. The importance of the role of the religious authority in Saudi Arabia’s economic renewal cannot be overstated. The legal headway that has been made is not sustainable without the unforced backing of the religious authority. For this reason, any further changes to the Saudi economic system must be pursued through secret diplomacy.
Hardman, Austin H.
"Quietly Encouraging Saudi Arabia’s Transient Economy,"
Pepperdine Policy Review: Vol. 14, Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/ppr/vol14/iss1/6