CAIS research scholar, Tony Allison is the 2021 winner of the AAIMS Riaz Hassan Prize for Best Honours Thesis. On behalf of all CAIS staff and research scholars we congratulate Tony and wish him all the best for his doctoral research.
Tony received this prestigious award for his outstanding thesis “The Prince and the Torpor”: Social Change in Saudi Arabia.
Since the start of Saudi Vision 2030, an economic diversification programme, in 2016, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has witnessed a significant amount of social change. A number of commentators have highlighted the unprecedented nature of the change. The goal of this thesis, therefore, is to explore the nature of this social change. In doing so, this thesis will answer two questions. One, what social change has occurred under Vision 2030. Two, what factors are responsible for the extent of this change. This thesis argues that three factors are responsible: one, Mohammed bin Salman, in his desire for social change, his institutional power to achieve this change and his use of state repression to prevent opposition; two, the youth’s desire for social change, caused by socio-economic stress produced by high unemployment and severe boredom, has allowed the social change to progress at a faster rate; and three, the decline of the ‘ulamā’s power relative to the monarchy, to the extent that they are no longer able to oppose social change as they have historically done.
The Australian Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies (AAIMS) offers this prize for the most outstanding honours thesis in the interdisciplinary field of Islamic and Muslim studies, with the intention of encouraging junior scholars to pursue further research in the field. The award is named after Emeritus Professor Riaz Hassan OAM, who has been a foundational figure in Islamic Studies in Australia and has held positions of eminence at Flinders University, the National University of Singapore (NUS), Gadjah Mada University, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Yale University.