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Saudi demographics may ultimately drive discontent

Friday, July 9, 2021

Significance

This means the leadership must manage a significant social change, catalysed by an engaged and 'globalised' youth segment. At the same time, the economy has to accommodate population growth even as its hydrocarbon base faces uncertainties from climate change.

Impacts

  • Beyond major urban centres such as Riyadh and Jeddah, much of the country will remain closed and conservative.
  • Moves to curb the influence of the clerical establishment will persist, but the central role of religion will prove resistant to change.
  • In the short term, women’s rising economic role will disrupt familial norms only among the elite.
  • The current shrinking space for expressing discontent could contribute to a brain drain from the kingdom.
  • By 2035, there will be a higher likelihood of protests, both virtual and physical, especially in rural areas.

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