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Sunday, Feb 09, 2003

change up

"Internally, economics and demographics have conspired to put added pressure on Riyadh in the direction of reform. The Islamic kingdom is facing a barrage of unprecedented problems, as its population has doubled in 20 years to 23 million, even though income from oil has remained flat, with no prospects for sustained growth. In terms of material infrastructure, per capita investment has been halved in the past decade, leading to a bottoming out of basic social services. Unemployment among the young has risen sharply. The royal family may recognize that as these popular frustrations grow, they will need to be channeled through more accommodating political mechanisms."