The Middle East Institute is proud to host Dr. Joseph A. Kéchichian for a discussion and book signing of his most recent work, Legal and Political Reforms in Saudi Arabia, published by Routledge in December, 2012.
At a time when many wonder how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will adapt to challenging regional crises, confront exacerbating internal problems, and manage sensitive ties with leading world powers, Riyadh is on the docket to also ensure a smooth royal succession. Critics of the Kingdom's reform policies allege that Riyadh is ill-suited to face the massive social, economic and political challenges it faces, some even anticipating its total collapse. Joseph A. Kéchichian argues, however, that serious reforms are under way, including changes in the judicial sector, a genuine "National Dialogue," and an inclination within the royal family to expand the boundaries of political debate. Kéchichian will also examine relations between the Al Sa'ud and the conservative clerical establishment, and offer an assessment of the legacy of King 'Abdallah bin 'Abdul 'Aziz as prospects for a passing of power to a new generation become clearer.
The discussion will be moderated by MEI Senior Vice President Kate Seelye.
Dr. Kéchichian received a doctorate in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia in 1985, where he also taught (1986-1988), and assumed the assistant deanship in international studies (1988-1989). Currently the CEO of Kéchichian & Associates, LLC, a consulting partnership that provides analysis on the Arabian/Persian Gulf region, he specializes in the domestic and regional concerns of Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Yemen.Dr. Kéchichian has been a Hoover Fellow at Stanford University (1989), an Associate Political Scientist at the Santa Monica-based RAND Corporation (1990-96), and a fellow at UCLA's Gustav E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies (1998-2001). He is also a Senior Writer with the Dubai-based Gulf News, which is the top-ranked English-language news daily in the United Arab Emirates, available online at gulfnews.com, and appears frequently on AlJazeera English. He served as the former Honorary Consul of the Sultanate of Oman in Los Angeles, California (2006-2011).
Prior to joining MEI, Kate Seelye worked as a radio and television journalist covering the Arab world from her base in Beirut, Lebanon. She reported half hour documentaries for the PBS-TV show, Frontline/World and also reported and produced documentaries for the renowned Channel Four British investigative news series, Unreported World in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. She was part of an NPR team that won an Alfred I. DuPont -Columbia University Press Award for regional coverage of invasion, and she has freelanced for Marketplace, ABC and CBC radios, as well as written for Salon.com, the LA Times and the LA Weekly. Ms. Seelye has a BA in history from Amherst College and an MA in journalism from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications.