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King Abdullah, who died January 23 after a 10-year-long reign, was truly beloved by his people and the most highly respected leader of the Arab world. He started out as a reformer, propelling women into the all-male world of Saudi politics and sending over 100,000 Saudis abroad for higher education in hopes of speeding up the modernization of his ultra-conservative kingdom. But the Arab Spring brought an abrupt halt to the reform process and triggered a severe crackdown on all human and political rights activists.

About the Author

David Ottaway image

David Ottaway

Middle East Fellow;
Middle East Specialist and Former Washington Post Correspondent
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Middle East Program

The Wilson Center’s Middle East Program serves as a crucial resource for the policymaking community and beyond, providing analyses and research that helps inform U.S. foreign policymaking, stimulates public debate, and expands knowledge about issues in the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.  Read more

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