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Saudi Economic Reform and Sectarian Rivalry

04 Sep 2017
By Dr Ben Rich
Dr Ben Rich and Flavia Zimmermann

Saudi Arabia is attempting major economic reform while continuing to battle the spectre of Iranian-led opposition.

Driven by the young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the ambitious Vision 2030 plan is designed to transition Saudi Arabia from an over-reliance on oil and gas into an economy driven by private investment and enterprise. But this is not the first time that this has been tried and questions remain as to whether the Saudi state will be able to deliver such far-reaching changes.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia is at the centre of deepening sectarian rivalry in the Persian Gulf region with the narrative of Sunni and Shia incompatibility enabling the kingdom to bolster national identity, prevent uprisings and justify incursions such as Yemen.

Before presenting to AIIA for WA, Dr Ben Rich of Curtin University, a specialist in Middle Eastern affairs, spoke with Flavia Zimmerman about these issues, as well as political and security trends in the Persian Gulf more generally.

Dr Ben Rich is a lecturer in international relations and security studies at Curtin University.

Interviewed by Flavia Bellieni Zimmermann of AIIA for WA.

Filming and editing by Nancye Miles-Tweedie and Veronica McConachy.