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October 7th, 2004
The Saudi Question
Introduction

About the Film

The question facing Saudi Arabia, and those dependent on its oil exports, is whether the kingdom will find a path to democratic reform or succumb to a rising tide of Islamic extremism. The Saudi kingdom, today dangerously at war with itself, controls approximately 25 percent of the world’s oil. It is the fulcrum on which the global economy teeters and the home of Islam’s holiest sites — and of terrorists whose recent attacks against Westerners living on Saudi soil have provoked international outrage.

Despite stringent restrictions on Western media, WIDE ANGLE has obtained unusual access to the kingdom and its ruling elite at a time when the kingdom’s rulers have themselves come under attack by extremists. With an introduction to the Saudi royal family from Prince Turki al-Faisal, former Saudi Chief of Intelligence and a leading royal reformer, “The Saudi Question” explores whether the Saudi government is capable of making lasting democratic reforms in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and the US-led invasion of Iraq.

The film includes access to an extraordinary emergency council session convened by Crown Prince Abdullah, the de facto ruler of the desert kingdom. Also featured is Jamal Khaleefa, Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law and former close friend who is well acquainted with the threat that Islamic radicalism poses to the kingdom and to the royal family. WIDE ANGLE also speaks with ordinary Saudis, both those who encourage the ruling elite to initiate progressive reforms and the Wahhabist hardliners who preach the destruction of all infidels. “The Saudi Question” sheds valuable light on the obstacles Saudi Arabia faces on the road to reform and the rising dangers of Islamic extremism.

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