Saudi Model of Development for the Islamic World: Peculiarities and Limits

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The article is devoted to the analysis of the Saudi model of development for the Islamic world, which Riyadh started actively promoting after the “Arab Spring”. The popular protests in the Middle East and North Africa countries, which led to the changes in the ruling regimes, opened up prospects for the states of the region to transform their own models of statehood. In this regard large regional actors such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey proposed their own models as an example for possible changing political systems and foreign policy of countries affected by unrest. The relevance of the topic of this study is determined by the fact that the current struggle for leadership in the Middle East, unfolding between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has reached a level where the rivals could influence the choice of development path of other countries, such as Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. In this regard, it is extremely important to assess the models proposed by Riyadh and Tehran, to determine the prospects for their implementation. The purpose of the article is to identify the features of the development model for the Islamic world proposed by Saudi Arabia, as well as to assess the limitations of this model. The author used both general scientific methods (analysis, synthesis, generalization) and methods of historical science (concrete historical, comparative historical, historical genetic methods) and religion studies (causal analysis). In addition, the methodology of political science and economics was widely used. A special focus was done on the quantitative analysis of the amount of aid sent by Saudi Arabia to implement various projects in the countries of the Islamic world as part of international development assistance programs, with the aim of forming a ranking of recipient states from Riyadh. As a result of the study, the author came to the conclusion that Saudi Arabia pursues a pragmatic foreign policy strategy, in fact, not relying on Islamic principles. However, Riyadh is devoting significant financial resources to implementing programs to promote the development of the Islamic world and religious diplomacy, in which the promotion of its own “version” of Islam - Wahhabism, and more precisely Salafism, plays an important role. Among the main limitations of the Saudi model the author identified oil as the basis for modernization, since not all states have this resource and can develop their own economy on its basis; Wahhabism as a “small-town” doctrine, which can hardly be borrowed by the countries of the Islamic world, in which more moderate religious schools have traditionally dominated; absolute monarchy as a form of government, even with elements of democracy.

About the authors

Olga Sergeevna Chikrizova

RUDN University

Author for correspondence.

PhD in History, Senior Lecturer, Department of Theory and History of International Relations

Moscow, Russian Federation


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Copyright (c) 2019 Chikrizova O.S.

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