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Episode 3

Documentary series. The House of Saud is now facing a moment of unprecedented instability. This episode looks at how the family stays in power.

The House of Saud, rulers of the modern kingdom for nearly a century, are now facing a moment of unprecedented instability. This episode looks at how the family stays in power.

The film features some of those who have worked for Saudi princes. They describe how the wealth allowed lives of privilege and pleasure out of the spotlight. But the growth of social media has meant Saudis are getting increasing insight into the behaviour of their rulers, including their transgressions.

The uniquely generous social contract that has existed in the kingdom for decades has protected and bolstered the House of Saud, yet this is changing. Facing a demographic time-bomb of a hugely young population and an economy beset by low oil prices, the new ruler Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has embarked on an unprecedented programme of social and economic reform. Allowing women to drive and relaxing rules on the male guardianship system, his modernising agenda has pleased many. At the same time, his government has recently introduced strict anti-terror laws and is conducting what many consider to be a crackdown on any critics. This month, a leading a group of UN experts attacked the kingdom's behaviour as a 'persecution of human rights defenders'.

The film also features information security experts who believe that the Saudi government uses sophisticated methods to monitor social media in order to suppress dissent and internal criticism of the regime.

With this crucially important country facing a historic crossroads, the programme asks what the future holds for Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world.

59 minutes

Last on

Fri 2 Nov 2018 23:05

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Role Contributor
Narrator Saskia Reeves
Director John O'Kane
Producer John O'Kane
Series Producer Michael Rudin
Executive Producer Mike Radford


  • Tue 23 Jan 2018 21:00
  • Thu 15 Feb 2018 00:15
  • Fri 2 Nov 2018 23:05