I was in Saudi Arabia about fifteen years ago with several of my friends including Fouad Ajami, Michael Kinsley, and Tom Tisch. We were there at the invitation of Prince Bandar, then Saudi ambassador to the United States. Our host and guide was Adel al-Jubeir, then aide-de-camp to the ambassador and now ambassador himself. But note how the Simon Henderson piece below refers to Adel's job: he is not an ordinary ambassador.
Adel tells me that I wouldn't and couldn't recognize the country. Other friends who have been there off and on tell me the same. Henderson's report is really a dispatch about personnel changes. But where a monarch rules along side his family personnel is the surest guide to what is occurring.