Public diplomacy and soft power: a case study of Saudi Arabia’s image projection in the UK

Al-Otaibi, Najah (2019) Public diplomacy and soft power: a case study of Saudi Arabia’s image projection in the UK. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Globalisation and the information technology revolution have transformed the way that diplomacy is practised. Traditional diplomacy, which has been commonly conducted between official representatives of governments, is no longer the sole source of communications that governments use to gain political influence and advantages. As an extension of traditional diplomacy, public diplomacy targets the general public in a foreign country (Melissen 2005, p. 9). A number of countries use public diplomacy to project a positive image, including presenting information to overcome the impacts of incidents that have damaged their reputations. Saudi Arabia has faced negative image perceptions, especially in the UK and other Western countries (Al-Ahmady, 1995), (Al-Qarni 2006, 2007). This study aims to enrich the scientific debate on public diplomacy by examining the public perception of Saudi Arabia and to provide practical recommendations on improving its public image, especially in the UK. It is hoped that the critique of current public diplomacy policies will benefit legislators and policymakers across the world in addressing negative image perceptions.

Recent studies on the impact of public diplomacy on a country’s public image have tended to focus on great power states; there is scant literature on effective public diplomacy from regional powers, such as Saudi Arabia, and the extent to which public diplomacy can be used to improve a regional power’s image, hence the need for this study.

This thesis study suggests that Saudi Arabia needs to reinforce and secure its foreign relations, especially with great powers, by explaining itself more effectively in order to be better understood and to increase cooperation with the outside world to promote universal values and world order. Saudi Arabia also needs to be more transparent to the outside world, not through propaganda, but through a true reflection of its reality, which will need to be developed by accelerating domestic reform. It is therefore recommended that Saudi Arabia continue its ongoing public diplomacy efforts towards improving its image but should also consider more-creative approaches and strategic planning to pursue this objective.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2022 14:43
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2022 14:43


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