The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, and a mandatory religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey.

As Saudi Arabia struggles to adjust to a drastic decline in oil revenue, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman attempts to boldly transform the country and shift more power to the younger generation. At the same time, the U.S. and other countries point out Saudi Arabia’s lack of democracy, womens rights and human rights. They blame its promotion of Wahhabism, an extremely conservative version of Islam, for creating jihadists. Bipartisan criticism of Saudi Arabia is rising in Congress.

Both countries need each other, but they are at a crossroads in bilateral relations. How will it all play out?

The history of the region, an explanation of the real conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and why the United States finds it so difficult to come up with a viable plan of stability and support will be covered in a program entitled “Saudi Arabia in Transition,” the Arizona Senior Academy’s fifth installment of an eight-part Great Decisions 2017 series presented by the Foreign Policy Association.

The discussion will be held at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday (March 1) in the ASA Great Room. The facilitator for this session is Jade Amick Fulgenzi, who worked for the kingdom as a principal of an international school with mostly Muslim students.

She was there in Saudi when the 9/11 attacks occurred, and can testify to the mood of the people in response to that event. It was a period of “Saudization,” the precursor to the present day attempts to modernize the country, get its population off almost total government support, and put the nation to work.  And there, work has a different connotation when one must stop and pray at a mosque five times a day. The impact of the religious customs, large and small, are important.

Written by Jade Amick Fulgenzi

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March 1: Can U.S. Keep Ties With Saudi Arabia?