Document Type

Unpublished Paper

Publication Date

July 2012


Present day events in the Middle East and North Africa have confronted Saudi Arabia with some of its greatest challenges as a nation. The political landscape has been transformed by popular movements for democratization (Arab Spring). The serious economic and political turbulence that confronts the region does not promise to ameliorate anytime soon. And in the greater sphere of global relations, Saudi Arabia faces a critical and uncertain future with the US disengaging from Iraq and the controversy over a nuclear Iran. Saudi Arabia’s domestic challenges have proved no less imposing. While common wisdom has harped on the abundance of Saudi hard power, couched in great oil wealth, as the Kingdom’s preponderant solution to its problems, in reality the Kingdom has made use of a significant endowment of soft power in facing its challenges. The strength and importance of this soft power has all too often gone unappreciated. Never has the need for a resolute continuation of the use of this soft power been more pronounced in order for Saudi Arabia to effectively confront its domestic and international challenges. This paper assesses the modern day international and domestic challenges facing Saudi Arabia and analyzes how the nation’s soft power can be employed to effectively deal with those challenges. Section one identifies the foundations of soft power. Sections two takes inventory of Saudi Arabia’s principal sources of international and domestic soft power. Section three analyzes the potential of this soft power as a means of confronting the Kingdom’s most pressing challenges and problems. Section four offers brief concluding remarks.