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Will Saudi Arabia Collapse as the Soviet Union Did?

Updated on June 18, 2012

With the recent death of the man who would be king of Saudi Arabia, there is concern that under the seemingly stable veneer of its society, the kingdom is brittle. Ruled by very elderly men, even the successors are old, stuck in traditional customs that are outdated. The senior Saudi rulers have an average age of 80 yrs. old.

The unemployment in SA is 40% among its future, their 20-25 yr. old population. Forty percent of its population live on less than $1000 a month and almost 80% of its revenues are solely from oil. Worse, 90% of its workers, all workers, are foreign! Saudi Arabia has a youth problem, much worse than Iran, which has 30% under age 30. In Saudi Arabia, 60% are under age 25.

The Saudi rulers, despite their age, are quite aware that youth in population can eventually dictate life. For years, the USSR seemed to be indestructible because of its tight rules and laws that kept a lid on things. But as 1980's reached the end, its population saw how much of the world lived in freedom and by 1992, there was no more USSR.

The Saudi leaders do not think democracy can work there because of the many tribes that exist there, so they use the shura method or consultation, and if the there is no consensus, the final decision is the King's.

But this is the 21st Century. The instant communications make it hard for the government to control the opinion of 10 million Internet users in the country. Outside influence remains the same problem that the USSR had. Saudi Arabia men and women no longer obey blindly the authorities and all of the royal families are educated in the USA and Europe. They see and experience what the other world offers and most embrace aspects of it when they return home, only to find some tribal , archaic law preventing it. For instance, stupid laws that will not allow women to drive a car alone. Or, women who wear nail polish in public. The more the government oppresses the people, the more sedition occurs. Unrest simmers. YouTube seems to play a vital role that moderates the rulers. Women who challenge the law against them driving a car, posted videos of them do so. They created a following on Facebook. Another Saudi made a film showing the horrible poverty in the land of wealth and how Saudi men sell their girls into prostitutes. It was posted on YouTube and had over 800,000 views from other Saudis. It had a profound impact even though the filmmaker was arrested (just as the women who drove cars were arrested).

The young Saudis, like the young Russians, simply no longer buy their rulings from the King. They no longer respect him or fear them. It is only a matter of time until this discontent causes much more serious problems to the rulers, which appease them with small bits of freedoms or more free services, in effect, they buy their people's submission. Most Saudi's simply want a more open and fair government and to rid of old tribal traditions that make no sense in a modern world that they live in. Why can't we be like Britain or America or France, they question? They go to school there and live a far freer life and return only to find themselves shackled by strict cultural customs filled with bias.

Saudi Arabia is on the list for change. Time is not on the ruler's side.


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    • safiq ali patel profile image

      safiq ali patel 5 years ago from United States Of America

      Not sure if I agree with some of the comments here. The kings of Saudi Arabia if they were true to their Islamic rules would embrace their people as the nations greatest assets. The Royals of one of the richest nations on earth should share the oil wealth with it's people. The royals should permit education and development for their people. After all the population of Saudi Arabia is very small and it would be of little cost to The House of Saud to share their immense oil wealth.

      Very informative and useful hub.

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 5 years ago from Singapore

      I have no doubt that Saudi Arabia will collapse. Arabia I feel is an obscurantist country with archaic laws. Unfortunately it is backed by the USA, which is a fact. Similarly the USA backed the Shah of Iran and is still paying the price for it. The Saudi kingdom is bound to collapse, but the USA will be the loser again.

    • Nick Hanlon profile image

      Nick Hanlon 5 years ago from Chiang Mai

      The Saudi family has been in and out of power before.They are the most astute rulers of all the Arab countries because they play both sides of the street and get away with it.A combination of easy money and one way helicopter rides to the empty quarter will keep them in power for a while yet.And by one-way helicopter rides,I mean you get pushed out of the chopper at 10,000 feet blindfolded and dropped into a desert bigger than Texas.Plus the west is being put over a barrel!!! here.It's either support us or someone much worse will take over from us.

    • profile image

      Orion13 5 years ago

      They will collapes but only when the Oil Market ends. They have too moneyand influence from oil to collapse. Its unfortunate but true.

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 5 years ago from Singapore

      The Saudi's are bound to collapse. I am very sure the Saudi dynasty will cease to exist.

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 5 years ago

      I think SA will gradually make modern concessions to its young population as time moves on. Little things, like allowing women to drive alone to placate its youth.

    • profile image

      Jayfort 5 years ago

      Good luck with that. If I recall correctly, the Wahabis Sect is the fundamentalist side that helps the Saud Family maintain their power. They're also the religious police for the country. Anything too Western gets smashed...HARD!

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 5 years ago

      Thanks Jay, I guess will just wait until the "Arab Spring" arrives there!

    • profile image

      Jayfort 5 years ago

      I worked as an ex-patriate in SA for a while back in the 90s. Some of the things I learned about SA:

      - The people of SA are more loyal to their tribes than they are to SA as a country.

      - Due to the volume of money-for-oil that pours into SA, the Saudis feel they can hire labor in the form of ex-pats rather than learn the skills they need to do the work themselves, thus most Saudis want to be a "chief" without having to learn what it means to be an "Indian" first.

      - While they proudly hailed that they had conquered illiteracy in SA on the front page of The Daily Riyahd, it was quite evident that this was not the truth and I'm talking about officers in the Royal Saudi Air Force.

      - The Royal Family is vast in size and in corruption. They own/control most of the SA companies; they take their cut off the top (not out of profits later): hire cheap foreign labor; then when operations money runs out, the cheap labor doesn't get paid and are stuck in SA because the company holds there passport.