It all seems civilized and predictable. An aging crown prince passes away and his successor is promptly chosen: Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, another son of the founder of the Saudi kingdom and long-time governor of Riyadh, becomes the new successor to the reigning monarch, King Abdullah.
But beneath the veneer of stability and consensus, the House of Saud is facing problems that neither the princes nor the international community are paying much attention to.
Given the political convulsions that have rocked the Middle East over the past two years, Saudi Arabia may appear as an island of stability. The seeming tranquility, however, belies deep-seated structural changes that may yet destabilize the monarchy.