After 09/11 Saudi-Arabia’s ruling family got under pressure: investigations revealed that Saudis had been main sponsors of al-Qaida, and the US as long-term ally sheered off from the kingdom. In domestic politics, claims to stronger participatory rights increased. The rulers responded with modernization efforts.
In HSFK-Report 13/2007 „Im Zweifel für die Monarchie. Autokratische Modernisierung in Saudi-Arabien“ (In Doubt for the Monarchy. Autocratic modernization in Saudi-Arabia), Iris Wurm examines this reform process. She concludes that the autocratic modernization took place to invalidate criticisms - for the retention of power. Nevertheless, she judges the reforms favourably, because for the Saudi people they meant participatory rights - even if it were only small ones -, and they show that changes are possible.