A conference in the UK aims to assess the recent political tensions in Saudi Arabia in the wake of a major anti-corruption crackdown.
The full-day event is being organised by the Middle East Monitor, a non-profit press monitoring organisation, and will take place on Saturday in London, bringing together academics, journalists and politicians.
Keynote speakers include former leader of the UK’s Liberal Democrats party Paddy Ashdown and Jack Straw, who has served as Britain’s foreign secretary as well as home secretary.
“Crisis in Saudi Arabia: War, Succession and the Future” comes as the kingdom is undergoing a major political shift after King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud removed his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef as Saudi Arabia’s ex-crown prince to make way for his son Mohammed bin Salman.
“Gone are the days when the Kingdom was an oasis of tranquillity and stability,” the conference introduction said.
“At present, the country is beset by a combination of domestic and foreign problems which, if mishandled, will have dreadful consequences.”
In the first session of the day, panelists including Dr. Madawi Al-Rasheed, a Saudi academic and visiting professor at the London School of Economics (LSE) Middle East Centre, will delve into “The making of the Kingdom, and how we got here”.
Former Labour Party MP Clare Short will moderate a panel discussion looking at what critics say is the paradox of human rights violations as the government looks to promote liberalisation within the kingdom.
On November 4, Saudi Arabia dismissed a number of senior ministers and arrested nearly a dozen princes as part of an investigation by a new anti-corruption committee.
The government widened the purge by issuing a no-fly list and reportedly freezing bank accounts linked to Mohammed bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia’s ex-crown prince.
The dramatic steps were the latest in a series of measures by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to assert power over the country and its previous leaders.
Amid the political upheaval, Saudi Arabia is also experiencing a recession after shrinking in two consecutive quarters for the first time since 2009.
The country has launched an ambitious economic reform programme, Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to reduce the country’s reliance on oil.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is among the Gulf countries currently blockading Qatar.