Continuity and Change in the Construction Process of Nation-Building in Saudi Arabia


The thesis’s main topic contributes to the scholarly literature on nationalism studies in the Middle East by focusing on Saudi Arabia, a state that dominates the largest part of the Arabian Peninsula that has undergone socio-economic-political transformation over the last decade and has witnessed unprecedented moves that go beyond Islam and tribalism.

The literature review first addresses the classical and post-classical debate on nationalism with a critical discussion of its theoretical applicability in the global South context, particularly in the Middle East. Second, it tackles the neglected scholarly focus on the Gulf as an independent area of study and how the limited works of nation-building in Gulf states were conceptualized in a grouping and comparative manner, leaving the particularities of each case understudied. Later, it critically discusses the main approaches that address the notion of national identity formation in Saudi Arabia in an ad hoc manner. Finally, it concludes that the question of continuity and change on the construction of national identity in Saudi Arabia remains ambiguous and complex especially with the unprecedent socially liberal developments conducted recently by the state; this in return left a theoretical gap that needs to be inquired theoretically within the literature of nationalism studies in the Middle East.

Classical and post-classical debate on nationalism

Nationalism, as a field of study, emerged initially when the rise of new nation-states became more prominent after World War II. Relevant scholarship, roughly until the appropriates the notion of nationalism descriptively with a peripheral concern something that.

Studying Nationalism in the Middle East from a Gulf perspective

With the decline of Arab Nationalism by early scholarly works started to be more attentive to understand the durability of territorial forms of national identity over the decline of Arab Nationalism. Two sets of theoretical approaches emerged: First, classical approaches concerning the origins of the nation as a by-product of colonial legacy,

Approaches to study nationalism in Saudi Arabia

Recent literature on Saudi Arabia often tackles the issue of nationalism and national identity formation in an ad hoc manner associated with state legitimacy, regional politics, and pan-Islamism. Nevertheless, the most relevant literature can be divided into three categories in which the issue is addressed. First, as religious nationalism; second, as an instrumental discourse of power for state legitimacy; and third, as a structuralist effect of state expansion over the traditional domains of society.