The rulers have struck a fine balance between (a) projecting themselves as supporters of a puritanical version of Islam to win support from the masses and (b) protecting the country and its oil economy against threats from Jihadists from within and without.
When fundamentalists occupied the Grand Mosque at Mecca in 1979, the rulers evicted the occupiers but adopted their agenda and went ultraconservative to win support from the religious right. Saudi Arabia became a country where grand mothers could tell grand daughters what it was to drive a car or walk around without covering themselves head to toe.
Of late there is some disappointment about too much religion, too much dependence on US, too much corruption and too great a gap between the rich and the poor.
Unemployment and under-education have resulted in a pool of alienated youth ready to be recruited as terrorists – on occasions admired as Jihadists (when they murder infidels) and on other occasions branded as outlaws (when they threaten Saudi regime).
- Social explosion if status quo is maintained by risk averse elderly rulers
- Revitalization if society and economy are opened up and
- Chaos and collapse if there is reversion to religiosity and repression.