It is the tendency to lump all Muslims and other people in the East into one basket, and seeing them as exotic, but inferior, people who must be educated in western ways, and exploited. This is where lies the basic mistake, and it has proved disastrous.
Communication and free movement are very difficult, if not impossible for the ordinary citizen, in such societies; and news of unrest does not readily reach the world. We know that Saudi citizens nevertheless do find ways to express their opposition, but they are crushed with brute force.
In the wider geopolitical context, these events do indicate that the United States is losing its grip over the region. In fact, America had been losing its grip for some years.
It is just that the military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and America’s militaristic foreign policy may have given the opposite appearance to those who fail to look beyond the immediate.