Saudi National Identity: Historical and Ideational Dimensions

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This study deals with the main historical and ideational dimensions characterizing the Saudi State in its evolution. The role of religion, the Wahhabi version of Islam, in forging Saudi Arabia as a State is analysed, as it intertwines with the Arabian tribal political culture. Nationalism in the Kingdom is first and foremost identified with the Saudi-Wahhabi state project, but it is also seen as expression of growing identity consciousness among those Saudi citizens who tend to oppose the more and more aggressive transnational ideologies, threatening the same existence of Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the focus is on the developing internal national discourse on shared Islamic-Arabian values, tradition and conventions, habits and a ‘collective memory’. All these elements contribute to an interesting process of re-negotiation of the Saudi identity, in its multidimensional and polycentric character, while the ‘nationalists’ allow to re-discover pluralism in the country.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Struggle to Define a Nation. Rethinking Religious Nationalism in the Contemporary Islamic World
EditorsM. Demichelis, P. Maggiolini
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Islam
  • Saudi Arabia
  • national identity
  • nationalism


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