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Saudi Arabia’s Soft Power


  • Giulio Gallarotti
  • Isam Yahia Al-Filali


When people are asked the question, what is the source of Saudi Arabia’s power, who would cite factors other than oil? This equation of Saudi power exclusively with its oil wealth is mistaken. Historically, a principal and the most consistent source of Saudi power at the domestic, regional and global levels has not been revenues from oil, but the cultural power that inheres in a nation that is both the capital of the Muslim and Arab worlds. This soft power accounts for as much, if not more, of Saudi influence than even oil itself. To a large extent, this power explains why Saudi Arabia has remained stout in the face of the shock waves of the Arab Spring. Saudi soft power also accounts for much of the leverage that the Kingdom enjoys in its region and the world at large. This article assesses the principal sources of Saudi Arabia’s soft power, discusses the modern day international, regional and domestic challenges facing Saudi Arabia, and finally analyzes how Saudi soft power can effectively deal with those challenges.

Suggested Citation

  • Giulio Gallarotti & Isam Yahia Al-Filali, 2012. "Saudi Arabia’s Soft Power," International Studies, , vol. 49(3-4), pages 233-261, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:intstu:v:49:y:2012:i:3-4:p:233-261

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