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Mohammed bin Salman: The Icarus of Saudi Arabia?

David B. Ottaway
Mohammed bin Salman: The Icarus of Saudi Arabia?
ISBN: 978-1-62637-978-7
ISBN: 978-1-62637-980-0
ISBN: 978-1-955055-22-2
2021/232 pages/LC: 2021015855
"[Ottaway provides] deep analysis of the rationale for MBS's actions and the intricacies of the political machinations within the Saudi royal family." —Helen Lackner, Asian Affairs

"An accessible and informed contribution that should appeal to a wide range of audiences." —Madawi Al-Rasheed, International Affairs

"A must-read analysis of the tensions driving the changing nature of the seventy-five-year-old US-Saudi relationship. Ottaway has masterfully placed at the center of his narrative Mohammed bin Salman, the ruthless, repressive, reformer would-be king who may well hold the key to Saudi Arabia's future." —Aaron David Miller, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

"Excellent.... A thorough, insightful examination of what has happened in Saudi politics, what went wrong, and where the kingdom is going under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman." —Theodore Karasik, Gulf State Analytics


Mohammed bin Salman. A monarch-to-be without scruples? Or a visionary seeking a path to global power? A social reformer determined to bring his country into the twenty-first century? Or just another brutal dictator? A leader on the road to greatness, or one destined to follow in the footsteps of Icarus? Veteran Washington Post foreign correspondent David Ottaway draws on more than a half-century of observation and reporting to shed light on these conundrums at the heart of any attempt to understand Saudi Arabia—and the man who is poised to rule the country for decades to come.


David B. Ottaway has been covering Saudi Arabia, as a Washington Post journalist and Middle East bureau chief and then as a scholar, since the 1970s. At present, he is a Middle East fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center.


  • The Conundrums of Saudi Arabia.
  • Mohammed bin Salman's Meteoric Rise to Power.
  • Upending the House of Saud.
  • King Abdullah: The Surprise Reformer.
  • King Salman: The Daedalus of Saudi Arabia.
  • The Kingdom of Mohammed bin Salman.
  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • "Who Will Rid Me of This Troublesome Journalist?"
  • The Quest for Great Power Status.
  • The Saudi-US Relationship: Too Damaged to Repair?
  • Prospects for Reform ... and Repression.