On 15 August, it was announced the border crossing point on the road between Iraq and Arar in northern Saudi Arabia would be opened for the first time since the invasion of Kuwait 27 years ago.

That is longer than most Saudi nationals have been alive. It is a reminder that in Arabia, no one is in a hurry.

In the GCC, governments are dominated by dynasties, not parties subject to regular elections. Rulers think in generations, not electoral cycles. The appointment in June of Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud as Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is an exception that bends but does not break that rule.

The kingdom’s long-term strategy is built on the supremacy of the Al-Saud family, the partnership with the US and Riyadh retaining its dominant role in Opec. The appointment of a new heir to the throne does not mean that will change.

Time to think is a luxury denied most leaders. But not in Saudi Arabia.

The oil price since the spring has floundered below $50 a barrel. But Riyadh has again resisted calls for emergency action. Saudi government revenues are up year-on-year and the deficit in the first half of 2017 was about 25 per cent lower than forecast. The kingdom has almost half a trillion dollars in net foreign assets and can wait.

Saudi Arabia’s intervention at the head of an Arab coalition in the Yemen civil war began in March 2015. It has produced nothing decisive and has caused a humanitarian catastrophe. Reports in mid-August that the kingdom wants to get out of the conflict are probably right. But those hoping for a quick withdrawal are likely to be disappointed.

Iraqi Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr visited Riyadh in August and met the crown prince. There are reports the kingdom wants Iraq to help it mend relations with Iran. But detente with Tehran is unlikely for the foreseeable future.

Saudi Arabia’s policy towards the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is defined in a plan endorsed by the late King Abdullah when he was crown prince more than 25 years ago. There is contact between Riyadh and Tel Aviv behind the scenes. But the idea the kingdom is anywhere near seeking official contact with the Jewish state is a fantasy. Its position is clear and is not changing.

And then there is the blockade of Qatar, which everyone hoped would be lifted quickly. It has not been.

Survival in a hostile environment still shapes the thinking of Arabian leaders. Doing almost nothing is conventionally seen as an inadequate response to events, but not for Saudi Arabia and other GCC states. It is often better than the alternative.