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Yes, (Saudi) Minister! A Life in Administration

Date: 1999

I particularly enjoyed the hilarious account of his doctoral studies in the 1960s under John Burton at UCL and his impromptu viva with Burton and Vatikiotis. With narrow-eyed apparatchiki of the ‘quality’ industry now stalking the campuses, there will no doubt be immense relief in Gower Street that this sort of eccentricity is now (regrettably) a thing of the past. Students of diplomacy, however, will probably only want to look at chapter 13, in which Algosaibi provides an account of his tenure as head of the Saudi mission in Bahrain. It is a pity that at the time of writing he was able to say nothing about his ambassadorship in London, though it is clear that his general reflections on diplomacy are informed by this experience as well. The comparison that he offers between the influence and activism of ‘Western ambassadors’ on the one hand and the general insignificance and passivity of ‘Arab ambassadors’ on the other is particularly instructive. So much for generalizations about ‘the role of the ambassador’ in modern diplomacy. I look forward to Ghazi Algosaibi’s full autobiography with keen anticipation.

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