Saudi Arabia is one of the most important countries in the modern world. Not only does it possess some 25 per cent of the world's proven oil reserves, it also plays a crucial role in the wider Gulf region where over 50 per cent of proven reserves are located. Developments in Saudi Arabia will inevitably affect the economic well-being of the Western industrialised world, Japan and much of the Third World. At the same time, Saudi Arabia is ruled in a traditional way by an all-powerful king and royal family, and is one of the key countries of Islam, the Holy City of Mecca being within the country's boundaries. The inroad of modern Western forces into this traditional Islamic society is underlined by the fact that may key posts are filled with imported Western workers. This book, first published in 1982, containing contributions by the world's leading Middle Eastern experts, provides a comprehensive overview of important social, political and economic developments in Saudi Arabia. The opening chapters consider the formation of the Saudi State, and the bulk of the book surveys key themes such as political opposition, the oil industry, energy policy, banking, external relations and the future direction of development.