By way of Razib Khan, a Peter Turchin paper from 2006:
" The model predicts that the sovereign debt of Saudi Arabia will reach unmanageable proportions some 10−30 years in the future; the fiscal collapse will be followed by a state collapse in short order."You may wish to skip the methodology sections and go straight to page 8: The test case: Al Saud.
I spent a week in Riyadh in the early 1990s supporting Northern Telecom in selling DMS telephone switches to Saudi Telecom. Northern was squeaky-clean Canadian, and the Saudis were .. something else. It was all managed by the country-manager, who functioned as a cut-out and seemed to live the life of a covert operative. At least, he kept vanishing behind the walls of certain villas late at night.
I recall travelling in a taxi once from our hotel to the office of Saudi Telecom. We passed the Ministry of Interior, squatting behind its barbed wire and armed guards.
Its architecture resembled a flying saucer: narrow at the base and expanding as it went up - free fire zones. The taxi driver averted his face and refused to look at it. His 'concern' was palpable. We had all heard the stories.
There is a sense of illusory detachment you get as a westerner, a foreigner in an Islamic police state. We walked through 'chop chop square' en route to the Gold Souk - there were no public executions scheduled that day.
I recall we were unsuccessful. Alcatel and Ericsson had a better class of 'friends'.