A debate in the light of Saudi Arabia. A Kingdom in Peril

14 januari 2016 tot 14 januari 2016
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On thursday 14 January (17.00 - 18.30) at SPUI25, a debate takes place in the light of the book Saudi Arabia. A Kingdom in Peril. 

Saudi Arabia in the spotlight

In cooperation with the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the focal point of the international spotlight almost every day for its alleged support to Islamic State and other jihadi groups in Syria, its military campaign in Yemen, and its human-rights record. Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia remains an ally of the West in the many chess games playing out in the Middle East. What to do? Carry on business as usual? Or could there be an alternative strategy? With: Paul Aarts, Carolien Roelants, Floor Beuming and Koos van Haasteren.

At first glance, the Saudi royal family has survived the events of the Arab Spring intact and unscathed. Any upheavals were ostensibly averted with the help of oil revenues, while the Kingdom’s influential clergy conveniently declared all forms of protest to be against Islam. Does this mean that all is well, knowing that problems such as youth unemployment, corruption and repression are evident? While young Saudis may not yet be taking to the streets, on Twitter and Facebook their discontent is manifest. 

Last year important changes took place in the regime: long-serving King Abdullah was succeeded by his half-brother Salman, who immediately shook up the administrative apparatus. Most importantly, he nominated his son Muhammad bin Salman (30 years old) as Minister of Defense, deputy crown prince, and powerful chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs. This young prince (known as ‘MbS’) is seen by some as the regime’s strong man, and mastermind of the war in Yemen. Did the spectacular rise of MbS unleash a power struggle within the House of Saud? Is the war in Yemen becoming Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vietnam’? What will the impact of continuous low oil prices, both at the domestic and the external level? A debate in the light of the book release: Saudi Arabia. A Kingdom in Peril

About the speakers

Paul Aarts has been teaching international relations and Middle East politics at the University of Amsterdam (1983-2015). His research focuses on the politics of the Arab world, with a specific focus on the Gulf countries. Among his recent publications is Saudi Arabia. A Kingdom in Peril (with Carolien Roelants), Hurst 2015.

Carolien Roelants is Middle East columnist at NRC Handelsblad and co-author of Saudi Arabia. A Kingdom in Peril

Floor Beuming works as Senior Officer Human Rights Policy at Amnesty International – the Netherlands particularly in the area of human rights defence in Saudi Arabia. Beuming worked in Yeman and South Sundan, as well as for the United Nations Development Programme in Sri Lanka. 

Koos van Haasteren worked for SABIC (Saudi Arabian Basic Industires Corporation) in varous leardership positions between 2002 and 2015. From 2008 to 2013 he worked and lived with his family in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he was a member of the SABIC Executive Committee. From 2013 he was responsible for European operations of SABIC.


Thursday 14 January, 5pm


Spui 25-27, 1012 XM Amsterdam


You can sign up for this program for free. Subscribing is not non-commital: we count on your presence. If you are unable to attend, please let us know via  spui25@uva.nl | T: +31 (0)20 525 8142.

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