The rulers of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, ancient as they are, have made improvements. Egypt’s economy has belatedly begun to grow quite fast. The Saudi king is educating his people, even women—though he still won’t let them drive a car. He has spent more than $12 billion creating just one new university near the Red Sea port of Jeddah, while pouring many more billions into ambitious projects, such as high-speed railways, that should benefit everyone. But the closed political systems of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the uncertainties of dynastic power-mongering and the corruption inherent in patronage-ridden autocracies still often leads to plotting at the top and frustration that could spill over into anger at the bottom.
...It would be naive to urge or expect either country to become a full-blooded democracy in a trice.