Saudi Arabia, long-known for being the epitome of conservatism and orthodoxy in the Middle East, is in the process of undergoing a revolution in its leadership, economy and social structure. The process is unusual in that the changes being wrought, to all intents and purposes, stem from and are authorised by the current leader, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. While Salman may have authorised the changes being made to his country, it is his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, often referred to by his initials MBS, who executes his father’s decrees.
Given the kingdom’s history, ideological leadership, its economic clout and its standing as a regional actor, the changes being brought about are having, even at this early stage, a major impact upon the kingdom itself, the region and beyond. That impact will grow as the changes continue and demand examination. This paper will examine, therefore, the factors that may have brought about the need for change and some of their possible consequences.