Abstract: Saudi state relations with Islamism are old and complex. This report traces the historical transformations and recent shifts in this relationship. As a state based on religious legitimacy, the Saudi state is the first Islamic state in the post-colonial Arab world. Yet, as a self-declared Islamic state, it was ironic that an Islamist trend critical of the state similar to those that flourished under secular Arab republics in places like Egypt, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the region, emerged in the kingdom in the early 1970s. Drawing on historical data and contemporary analysis, this paper concludes that state-Islamist relations follow the logic of political expediency rather than dogmatic principles. As a result, the relationship oscillates between cooperation, repression and collision. It remains volatile even when reconciliation is fostered between the regime and its multiple Islamist trends.