Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Abdul Lateef


This study seeks to analyze the role of oil in Saudi Arabia's foreign policy. In 1973 Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations successfully used their oil resources to apply pressure on the United States of America to modify her strong support of the State of Israel. Saudi Arabia played a significant role in the 1973 oil embargo. This thesis will examine Saudi Arabia's role in the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo, and what prompted her participation, considering the fact that she is less radical than most of her Arab neighbors. The 1973 oil embargo was more successful than for example the 1967 embargo; Saudi Arabia's participation helped to create this difference. The oil weapon will definitely be effective whenever applied uniformly by the Arabs against the west, especially now, and possibly in the near future. However, it will be unwise for the Arabs to continuously depend on the oil weapon since their oil resources cannot last forever. As Dr. Sheikh Rustum Ali stated in his book entitled Saudi Arabia and Oil Diplomacy, alternative energy resources are still abundant. The western hemisphere or industrialized nations need only to apply their financial resources and technology to develop these resources. It obviously won't be an easy task for them to do so, now or in the near future, however it could be done. When this becomes a reality, the demand for oil will be sharply reduced, which will in turn deprive it of its present significance and of its role as a political weapon in international affairs.

This study will examine the alternative sources of energy being developed in the west, notably nuclear energy. Nuclear energy plants are rapidly being built in the western industrialized nations despite some oppositions by citizen groups within these various nations. There is evidence that these projects are favourable to some oil producing nations, including Saudi Arabia. Efficient use of energy is currently an important issue among the industrialized as well as the non-industrialized nations. The interest for alternative sources of energy is growing, partially due to higher oil prices. The high price of oil is forcing the United States for example (a victim of the 1973 Arab oil embargo) to rapidly seek alternative as well as new sources of energy.

Solar energy is another alternative source of energy being developed. This along with nuclear energy could be significant alternatives to oil successfully developed.

The major propositions that will be supported in this thesis are: Saudi Arabia fully supported the 1973 oil embargo, (1) to show her support of the muslim Arab nations, thus promoting unity among them; (2) to show her fear of Israel's ideological stand, which she considers too extreme, and radical; (3) to have Israel withdraw from Arab lands occupied during the 1967 war; (4) to gain respect and recognition from the western industrialized nations; (5) to take up a leadership role among the Arab nations in the Middle East, since her participation was crucial to the success of the embargo. Saudi Arabia has the largest known oil reserves in the world.