Robert Lacey

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Chatting with Silio Boccanera

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Silio Boccanera from Milênio in Brazil, this link will take you to the site where you can find a video interview in English which I would recommend.

The text is in Portuguese but the footage of the video is in English. It ran on Brazilian television on November 23, 2010.

SUSRIS Interview

27 Oct 2010
SUSRIS logo

Recently I gave an interview with SUSRIStube - a companion site of the SUSRIS (Saudi-US Relations Information Service) and the SUSRIS Blog, which chronicle developments in the historic relationship between Saudis and Americans. We discussed developments in Saudi Arabia, American perceptions of the Kingdom and the release of Inside the Kingdom in paperback.

The interview was held at the Arab-US Policymakers Conference in Washington, DC (October 21-22, 2010

Elvis and his Fan Club. Reforming Saudi King Abdullah meets women activists in Riyadh, 2008

The terrorist attacks of September 11th changed America forever, but Robert Lacey argues they had a big impact on Saudi Arabia too, by emboldening reformers to push back against religious extremists.

Nine years on, the 9/11 attacks can only evoke bitter memories for America. But it is already clear that 9/11 was a very good thing for Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who flew into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania were Saudis, disgruntled young men drafted by Osama bin Laden in what was essentially a Saudi quarrel fought out on American soil. Foiled in his attempts to bring down the “near enemy”—the “Sheikhs of Satan” as al Qaeda described the Westernizing princes of the House of Saud—Bin Laden targeted the “far” enemy, the Al-Saud’s mighty patron across the Atlantic, where security, he correctly divined at that date, was more lax.

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Ed Attwood writing in 'Arabian Business' - Deft fiscal control has left Saudi Arabia in better shape than most. But the kingdom’s sternest tests are still to come.

The final chapter in Robert Lacey’s recent portrait of Saudi Arabia, ‘Inside the Kingdom’, ends in rather a depressing manner. Citing interviews with members of the royal family, Lacey describes a scene in 2007 where HRH King Abdullah visits the site of the university that is set to bear his name — the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) — only to find that work had not progressed as far as he had hoped. Disappointed, King Abdullah returns home to Jeddah, and the book concludes with the monarch poignantly staying longer at his prayers that evening.

Read the article in full in 'Arabian Business'

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Politician, diplomat and poet who had the ear of the reforming King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia

The death of Dr Ghazi Al-Qosaibi, the straight-talking Saudi technocrat, diplomat and poet, leaves a large hole at the top of the power structure in King Abdullah's Saudi Arabia. Ostensibly Ghazi (pronounced "Rhazzi") was Minister of Labour, charged with the hopeless task of reducing the foreign labour force and getting male Saudis to do a decent day's work. In reality he was the King's principal non-family confidant and adviser, the closest thing he had to a prime minister.

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Here's the paperback edition of "Inside the Kingdom", hot off the press -- with a great review from the Guardian/Observer: And from the Times Literary Supplement:

“Lacey’s lively, anecdotal account, based in large part on conversations with Saudi men and women, some reformed extremists, some from the royal household, others academics, journalists and business people seeking a more pragmatic way ahead, explains without being either hypercritical or over-defensive how dangerously Saudi Arabia is beset from within and without.

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Catch these word-wizards on BBC Radio 4's "Quote Unquote" now! In the photo, from left to right Dr Phil Hammond, Britain's funniest doctor; Quotemeister and host Nigel Rees; the wise and wonderful Yasmin Alibhai-Brown; Myself (the only one in a tie), and stand-up comic Miles Jupp and kneeling on the floor - , the reader of all the quotations. -- at our recording of the latest shows in Nigel Rees's long-running series.

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The New book to accompany the 2010 film Arabia 3D

Michael Hamilton Morgan (Author), Greg MacGillivray (Introduction), His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al-Faisal (Afterword), Robert Lacey (Foreword)

Sheltered between the cradle of civilization and the busiest trade routes of the ancient world, the Arabian Peninsula is home to millennia-old civilizations that have blossomed and thrived in some of the world's harshest conditions.

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Here's a picture that has just been published around the Middle East -- with a comment from my friend Siraj Wahhab, a senior correspondent for Arab News: Siraj is currently their man in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province.

"The old saying goes “one picture is worth a thousand words.” Most of Saudi Arabia’s Arabic newspapers carried a photograph on Friday’s front-page that has become a talking point on blogs, Internet forums, shisha places, newsrooms and the corridors of power.

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I am proud to announce that today Whole Story Audio Books have published Inside the Kingdom -Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia, on CD as an audio book. On 14 CD’s and at over 16 hours of audio I sincerely hope you’ll enjoy Andrew Wincott’s reading of the unabridged work. - I've agonised over every sentence. Why should you be deprived of a single word? - For a little more information on this title please visit the Whole Story website.


Book Robert Lacey as a public speaker

Robert Lacey's other website about life in modern Saudi Arabia