Major Papers


Hedging, Saudi Arabia, Foreign Policy, Neoclassical Realism, Multipolar, Polarity


This paper illustrates Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy through the lens of hedging theory. Under the neoclassical realism umbrella, hedging is a foreign policy strategy that middle power states use to accommodate for future risks of a declining hegemonic global power. Saudi Arabia endorses strategic hedging in its external relations to accommodate both the United States and China, reaping the benefits of both relationships. This paper addresses the following two questions: 1) What is Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy through the lens of strategic hedging theory? And 2) How will strategic hedging help Saudi Arabia prepare for a multipolar world? How countries perceive the future international power balance helps us understand their strategies. Saudi Arabia is not looking to balance against the United States, but to leverage its position in a future balance of power that sees multipolarity as the international power structure. This possible multipolarity encourages the Kingdom to hedge as a structural incentive to be an equal player at the card table.

Primary Advisor

Dr. Tom Najem


Dr. Elena Maltseva

Program Reader

Svetlana Georgieva

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

Document Type

Major Research Paper

Convocation Year