The Saudi royal family and Aramco leadership are, and almost always have been, motivated by ambitions of long-term strength and profit. They use Islamic law, traditional ideology, and harsh justice to maintain stability and their own power, but underneath the thobes and abayas and behind the religious fanaticism and illiberalism lies a most sophisticated and ruthless business enterprise. Today, that corporation is poised to pull off the biggest IPO in history.
Over more than a century, fed by ambition and oil wealth, al Saud, as the royal family is known, has come from next to nothing to rule as absolute monarchs, a contrast with the world around them and modernity itself. The story starts with Saudi Arabia's founder, Abdul Aziz, a lowly refugee embarking on a daring gambit to reconquer his family's ancestral home?the mud-walled city of Riyadh. It takes readers almost to present day, when the multinational family business has made al Saud the wealthiest family in the world and on the cusp of a new transformation.
Now al Saud and its family business, Aramco, are embarking on their most ambitious move: taking the company public and preparing the country for the next generation.
Ellen R. Wald, PhD, is a widely cited consultant on geopolitics and the global energy industry. She earned her doctorate in history at Boston University and an AB in history, Near Eastern studies, and creative writing at Princeton University. She teaches Middle East history and policy and has appeared on TV and radio on three continents.
From 2001 through 2003, Jordan worked closely with Crown Prince Abdullah and other Saudi leaders on sensitive issues of terrorism and human rights, all the while trying to maintain a positive relationship to ensure their cooperation with the war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. At the same time he worked with top officials in Washington, including President Bush, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, and Tommy Franks. Desert Diplomat discusses these relationships as well as the historic decisions of Jordan's tenure and provides a candid and thoughtful assessment of the sometimes distressing dysfunction in the conduct of American foreign policy, warfare, and intelligence gathering. Still involved in the Middle East, Jordan also offers important insights into the political, economic, and social changes occurring in this critical region, particularly Saudi Arabia.
This revised and updated edition provides sympathetic descriptions of the various traditions, explaining how they work “from the inside,” which is a big reason why this cherished classic has sold more than two million copies since it first appeared in 1958.
Tracing a history marked by conflict, intrigue, and extreme uncertainty, McNally shows how—even from the oil industry's first years—wild and harmful price volatility prompted industry leaders and officials to undertake extraordinary efforts to stabilize oil prices by controlling production. Herculean market interventions—first, by Rockefeller's Standard Oil, then, by U.S. state regulators in partnership with major international oil companies, and, finally, by OPEC—succeeded to varying degrees in taming the beast. McNally, a veteran oil market and policy expert, explains the consequences of the ebbing of OPEC's power, debunking myths and offering recommendations—including mistakes to avoid—as we confront the unwelcome return of boom and bust oil prices.