For Saudi Arabia - ‘Tipping point’ could be reached in much anticipated (thus familiar) issue areas - but I’m more curious about aspects found in quoted parts - less reported/discussed too.
The domestic situation compounds the problems. An ageing monarchy resistant to political change must focus on appeasing a young population – increasingly connected to the outside world – concerned about transparency in government decision-making; the distribution of the country’s resources, including oil wealth and land; and a dearth of jobs.
Although dissent levels are not yet sufficient to alarm the government, technology-savvy young Saudis appear willing to raise their voices. They note the region’s revolts and elections and – after years of poor economic decision-making, slow reform and low oil prices in the 1990s – higher living standards in Gulf states such as Dubai that lack Saudi Arabia’s natural resources.
In the remote mountain province of Abha, students protested in March against poor sanitation, demanding the dismissal of the university head, amid accusations of corruption and nepotism. Students posted videos of the protests on Twitter and Facebook, gaining support from others who shared their complaints. Some teachers, medics and airline workers have organised strikes and protests, seeking better conditions or new jobs.
Increasing numbers of young, educated middle class Saudis question the effectiveness of ruling a country of almost 27m, only 18m of whom are nationals, in the traditional tribal way. Despite years of petitioning, women lack the right to control their employment prospects, and even their own daily movements.
“The question is not ‘Is the system listening’ but ‘Does it respond to our needs?’” says Hala al-Dosari, a women’s rights advocate. “Are 9m women supposed to go and wait by a prince’s door when they can’t get their basic paperwork done because they need a male relative?’’
As Saudi rulers seek to pick a pragmatic course through changes transforming the region, the greater question they face is whether they can adapt to the subtle, but no less significant, evolution of their own society.