Bruce Reidl makes the case for the al-Saud as a decaying gerontocracy:
….The biggest unknown is how the Kingdom’s youth will act. They have watched the drama in Tahrir Square, Benghazi, Sanaa and Dara’a on Al Jazeera just like everyone else. And the Kingdom has the same demographics as its Arab brothers: a large youth bulge that is chasing too few jobs. With 80 percent of Saudis under thirty years of age and 47 percent under eighteen, unemployment is officially at 10 percent but could be as high as 25 percent (only men are counted since few women seek jobs outside the home). The underemployed young Saudi man may have more money in his pocket than his Egyptian counterpart, but he too is frustrated by a system that is completely opaque and closed to the nonelite.
While the Kingdom can and does appease many of their demands-Abdullah announced over $100 billion in new bonuses, mosque building and other payoffs-it offers them little or nothing in the way of political change. Absolute monarchies are not usually accommodating to transparency and devolution of authority; by definition absolutists do not compromise with nonroyals.
….In fact the Hejaz, with its young, urbane, religiously varied population, has never fully accommodated to Saudi and Wahhabi rule. It has always seen itself as more cosmopolitan than the Nejd, looking across the Red Sea to Egypt and north to Syria rather than to the harsh interior. For centuries it was part of the broader Islamic world, a part of the great empires of Islam from the Umayyads to the Ottomans. The Nejd, in contrast-remote and barren as it is-stayed outside of those empires. Moreover, the Hejaz is home to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the center for the hajj every year, visited by Muslims from all corners of the ummah, thus exposing Hejazis to views and peoples of all caste and creed. Many of them are critical of the ugly remodeling of the holy cities to allow for plush apartment blocks and designer stores, and a few even long for the return of the Hashemites.
Color me skeptical that there is any deep longing among Saudis of any region to have the great-great- grandson of the Sherif of Mecca “return” as the lord of the Hejaz.