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A new, post-9/11 history of Saudi Arabia

Prophets and Princes

Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the Present

“Mark Weston's evaluation of Saudi Arabia's economy is the most comprehensive, balanced, and informative treatment of this subject available anywhere.”
-- Thomas W. Lippman, former Middle East Bureau Chief,
The Washington Post
"Always intelligent...unusually for a book of this sort,
Weston has both talked to and listened to Saudi women."

       -- The New Statesman (UK)

Saudi Arabia is easy to criticize. It is the birthplace of Osama bin Laden and fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers. Saudi women are not permitted to drive, work with men, or travel without a man’s permission. Prior to 9/11, the Saudis sent millions of dollars abroad to schools that taught Muslim extremism and to charities that turned out to be fronts for al-Qaeda. Yet the country is the economic and spiritual center of the Middle East, the source of one fourth of the world’s oil, and the cradle of Islam.


In Prophets and Princes, Mark Weston, a scholar who has lived in Saudi Arabia, writes that despite its serious shortcomings, the Saudi kingdom is still America’s most important ally in the Middle East. The country is a voice for moderation toward Israel and on the price of oil, and it is starting to make the economic and cultural changes necessary to adjust to modern realities.


Beginning with the birth of Muhammad in 570, the book paints a revealing portrait of Saudi Arabia's history through the present. Drawing on interviews with many Saudi men and women, Weston portrays a complex society in which sixty percent of Saudi Arabia’s university students are women, and citizens who seek a constitutional monarchy can petition the king without fear of reprisal.

Filled with new and underreported information about life in Saudi Arabia, Prophets and Princes is a must-read for anyone interested in the Middle East, oil, Islam, or the war on terror.

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