Update on Riyadh Bureau
It’s the last day before the paywall goes up
When I launched this newsletter in 2019, it was meant to be a side project while working as a correspondent for the Financial Times. But as our lives changed dramatically over the last twelve months, I have decided to leave my newspaper gig and make Riyadh Bureau my full-time job.
Today is the last day of the free preview period. Starting next week, only paid subscribers will receive this newsletter three times per week. In addition, paid subscribers will be able to comment on posts and participate in regular Ask Me Anything threads. Free subscribers will now receive this newsletter only once a week.
Whether you are a diplomat, a business executive, an academic, a journalist, a consultant or just someone interested in Saudi Arabia, this newsletter will provide you with useful insights through news, analysis and commentary as well as links to important stories related to the kingdom in both English and Arabic.
Subscriptions are $120 per year or $12 per month. I have offered discounts to early subscribers since I moved the newsletter to its new schedule a few weeks ago, and today is your last chance to take advantage of that offer for 10% off the annual subscription rate:
One of the reasons I began the newsletter as a monthly dispatch two years ago was my feeling that I needed to scratch an itch in a way that was not possible in my day job as a correspondent. Many Saudi stories on my radar simply did not fit the medium of the traditional newspaper format.
Being part of a major organisation has its benefits, but I really wanted to go back to my roots: I got my start writing as a blogger in 2004 when I was still a college student. I went to Columbia Journalism School in New York City and have been lucky to work for some of the world's largest news organisations, but I have missed that direct connection with readers.
Feedback from those readers in recent weeks have been gratifying:
“This is an amazing resource for anyone interested in Saudi Arabia.”
“An invaluable, independent voice.”
“A must-have for Middle East scholars, elected public servants.”
“The newsletter is phenomenal.”
“Great source of news and views.”
“Everyone interested in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and the broader Middle East should certainly subscribe to this outstanding newsletter.”
Saudi Arabia is now changing rapidly. Many of the old impressions and perceptions about the country no longer hold. The kingdom that for long has been described as closed and conservative is becoming increasingly open and dynamic. Its foreign policy that was once defined by maintaining the status quo and protecting stability at any cost is becoming more proactive and confrontational.
Change is exciting, but it can also be confusing and overwhelming. My goal is to help you navigate that uncertainty and better understand the transformation taking place in Saudi Arabia by offering coverage that is balanced, thoughtful and wide-ranging: from the kingdom’s domestic and regional politics to its economic reform and challenges, while also keeping an eye on society, culture and religion. Some examples from earlier dispatches:
On the prospects and obstacles to reaching a resolution to the Gulf crisis
A deep dive on activist Loujain al-Hathloul, her rise to online fame, involvement in the women driving campaign and the jail sentence against her
Saudi Arabia’s 2021 budget announcement and the impact of coronavirus and low oil prices on future plans
How the government’s entertainment push is testing the limits of cultural norms
A look into the struggle of both Sunni and Shia conservatives as they try to react to the social liberalisation agenda
I can only continue to do that with your backing. Please, if you can, support this project by becoming a paid subscriber. Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year ✨
Please send your feedback by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter: @ahmed