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New England Journal of Medicine. 1983 Fall; 61(4):659-86.In this examination of Saudi Arabia's health care accomplishments, it is argued that the World Health Organization's primary health care model is not the most appropriate for Saudi Arabia and countries like it. Saudi Arabia's health care policy is closely linked to its very rapid emergence as a new and distinctive society. Whereas most developing countries export physicians, Saudi Arabia imports them because the demand for physicians services cannot be met by the supply of indigenous physicians. Saudi health care development is very different from that of most of the third world. Although the country does have a great deal of western technology, Saudi Arabia seems to be following a different course of development from both the third world and the West. Unlike the West, the cost of medial technolgoy is not a problem for Saudi Arabia. Rather, it solves the problem of how to allocate its oil wealth to maintain political stability. The Saudis intend to make the best health care available to all its citizens; they are very concerned about the effect of modern technology on tradition. Therefore, the selection of technology is based on its cultural compatability, rather than on its costs. Primary care may be more technological and specialized than in the West. In Saudi Arabia primary health care may eventually be delivered entirely by specialists, rather than by general or family practitioners. The Saudis are expected to develop a health care system that will meet their particular needs. As with Saudi Arabia itself, health care is experiencing unprecedented change. Thus, the emerging Saudi system will be unique and innovative. Some of its accomplishments will be adopted by other developing countries; Western countries may look to Saudi Arabia as a natural laboratory of health care experimentation.