Thanks for airing such a well researched program. I take issue with how the shot of hajj pilgrims perfoming the sajda (prostration) during prayers was juxtaposed with commentary about religous extremism. The hajj is performed by Muslims of all stripes, and prostrating to God in unison is an act of humility, not extremism, and has been so long before we began framing things this way.
My friend who is a very pale American woman made the Hajj this year, and reported that absolutely no anti-American incidents occured in or around the American tent city within a tent city. "Not like the media reports it, at all", is what she said. Another interesting note: the Hajj is the largest man made migration on the planet-
I really enjoyed watching the Frontline last night.
I believe that PBS can exactly produce the exact same program about Israel as a theocracy living under extreme influence of its fanatic religious leaders. Does PBS have the courage to do so?
St. Paul, MN
Your show supported what I have been saying since 9/11. We, the US, are fighting the enemies of the royal family, so we can have access to the oil to support our oil based economy.
We claim our presence is for "Democracy", the same battle cry we used to fight the communists for 50 years, but that is a ruse. We have no legal right to tell ANY other country how to operate internally. The only time we should interfer is when a country attempts to extent itself, by force, beyond its' boundries, such as the USSR and Hitler did. We are in Iraq for two purposes. To be out of Saudi Arabia so that political stability may return and to maintain a Middle East presence.
I find it ironic that the religious fanatics in this country are so keen on attacking the religious fanatics in the middle east. Both groups want to control their women and culture through "scriptural law". I wonder who will succum this new, unwinable war that has been foisted on us. They have nothing to lose as they live close to the land. The US has everything to lose, culture, freedom and its faith.
I only wish I live long enough to hear the punchline.
Thanks to PBS for this informative report on Saudia Arabia. Althought it may not be as exhaustive as some would like, it was a good effort to educate and inform a very ignorant American public when it comes to Islam, Palestine, Israel, oil, and the unpredictable mix of people, power and politics.
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Thank you for providing such a fascinating journey through this culture. People strive to have a good life, and the American Model is one way, not the only way to manifest 'a good life'. This model is always changing and can be defined anyway one wants to- that is the nature of a democratic process. They fear change and American has become the scapegoat to their fears. They want the cars, the technology, the schooling, the comforts of life we enjoy. Yet they hate us for it.
This is a self-esteem issue. The Sauds having been in existance for only a 100 years after coming out of the desert. The powers that be act like children with a bad case of sibling rivalry. The Sauds are still making their way in a world that seems so far ahead. Change is inevitable. Pray for understanding.
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Last night I watched The House of Saud and I must say it is the best Frontline yet. I feel much more informed about the complicated issue of foreign relations with the middle east. Keep up the incredible work.
Denver , Colorado
I applaud the content and scope of your program. Although I was somewhat familiar with recent Saudi history, it was interesting to hear about the string of broken promises by several American Presidents regarding the establishment of the State of Israel.
It was disappointing to hear Kissinger state so matter of fact on camera that the U.S. was prepared to invade Saudi Arabia and take over the Saudi oil fields to keep the oil flowing.
I still can't understand why America has seen the need to provide Israel close to $100 billion in aid and military assistance and has sacrificed our relationship with most of the Arab world for a country that claims to be our friend, yet has proven at every opportunity to act solely in it's own selfish interest, without regard to how it affects their relationship with America.
I hope in the long run, they are worth it. Right now, the cost seems extremely high, for what we have gotten so far.
Thank you for such an excellent program detailing the last century of Saudi politics.
The Wahabbi isolationism is unfortunately duped by the royals ties beyond its borders. Your report clearly shows that there was (and still is) a mutually beneficial gain for the Saudis and the West. I can only hope that mainstream American understands that there is no conspiracy that only just started with the Bush Administration, but there has been a strong relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia for over 100 years.
I was absolutely riveted by your programme. As someone who grew up in the Middle East and has lived and worked in the US for the last 6+ years, it was fascinating to see the development of the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia and how mutually dependent they have been over the last century.
The Saudis have proven their flexibility. As Prince Bandar mentioned it is not easy to bring hundreds of years of advancement to a new country in a few decades and some turmoil can be expected along the way. As long as they have oil the Saudi's can maintain whatever balance suits them between religion and modernity. Compromises will continue as they have over the country's entire history. Anyone, however, who believes that Saudi Arabia will be anything other than a predominantly religious state is dreaming...
Thank you for an extremely informative program on the Middle East. Although the program specifically was focused on the house of Saud the insights are relevant to the entire Middle Eastern culture, mindset, and confusion.
One point that really stuck out in my mind was the circumstances surrounding Osama Bin Laden and his proposal to the King to ‘save’ Kuwait from the Iraqi invaders. It would seem that the King’s, ‘don’t call us we’ll call you’ response was the key turning point in Osama’s current rise to power.
He used that moment of disappointment and shame to his personal ego as a rallying cry of hatred towards the west and the House of Saud.
It is amazing how one single moment in time that inflicts damage on one persons self esteem can have such ripples of destruction across the entire planet.
Thank you! Finally a clear, concise explanation of how the U.S. is in the mess it's in, of how misunderstanding and ignorance of Arabia and its Islamic culture by western nations -- the Brits and French were there long before ARAMCO -- is reaping its seed, in the U.S., Arabia and elsewhere.
In 1978 I was in Cairo as a citizen; I was amazed to learn the oldest, continuously active synagogue in the world was in Old Cairo. Think about it... Puts a lot of things in a different light.
Marshall N Brown
I can see why how so many Wahabbi radicals and to some extent the moderate clerics have a disdain for Western culture. Yet it seems as though these clerics dont have the capacity to understand free will and individualism.
Balance between tradition and modernity is an issue all people deal with, no matter what ethnicity or background. I am quite optimistic that the Saudi government will be able to quell terrorism domestically and eventually end the extreme jihadi movement abroad.
Thank you very much for airing such an informative program - special kudos for the work involved in providing the broad range of commentary.
I feel the material filled gaps in my historical education covering post World War II events outside of the cycle of the Cold War.
House of Saud provides improved understanding of the U.S.'s historical dealings with the actors in the Middle East and helps us understand their motivations and grievances.
Woodland Hills, CA
Thank you for a fascinating program, I think I will purchase the DVD. One thing that clicked like a light bulb to me was when Kissinger was talking about the potential of America protecting itself from being strangled by those in control of the petroleum tap. Why did not the brilliant Kissinger recommend to Nixon and America that we should change our economy from an oil based one to one of hydrogen, the most abundant fuel in the universe? If America's scientists and industrialists had been mandated then to come up with a hydrogen solution, perhaps our world would be less dangerous for everyone today.
Phenix City, Alabama
The Saudi monarchy's contradictions, and, in many cases, blatant hypocrisies have left them hated by their subjects, and distrusted by the United States. Still, I, like the vast majority of my fellow Salafi (or, as the media insists, "Wahhabi") Muslims, know that the violence I see unleashed to try to unseat the monarchy must be condemned.
If God wills, I believe that a balance can be found between tradition and modernization, but, let's be clear, the deadliest threat that the kingdom now faces does not come tradition, but from a modernist hybrid movement that attempts to merge the revolutionary vanguard concept of Leninism with a non-traditional understanding of "jihad." This movement, often labeled "Qutbism" after the Egyptian writer and activist, Sayyid Qutb, has been condemned by all of the authentic Salafi religious scholars.
The leadership of the House of Saud, at this point, can only undermine the hold that bin Laden and his ilk have on the minds and hearts of the dissafected if they begin the process of ending their monopoly on power. A helpful first step would be cutting loose financially their thousands of parasitic princes, especially those who have succumbed to the worst excesses of anti-Islamic lifestyles.
Salafi Muslims strive to follow the pristine teachings of Islam, and it is clear to us that there is no mandate from the Qur'an or the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad that Muslims should be ruled by a one-family monarchy. The bombers won't overthrow the House of Saud, but if the royal family flubs its present balancing act, they might eventually be brought down like the Shah of Iran by the masses hitting the street.