Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)

Four Historic Years for Saudi Arabia

Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, August 3

Saudi Arabia today is not the Saudi Arabia of yesterday. What we have been witnessing over the past few years is a series of courageous decisions to repeal laws that dominated the local scene. The past four years have brought an end to two-thirds of a century of social norms and laws that have been obstacles to development, normal life, employment and human interaction. This began with the unveiling of Vision 2030, when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took over the Council for Economic and Development Affairs. Since then, not a single month has passed without the passage of a new resolution improving the relationship between the state and its citizens. Saudi Arabia is betting on a bold plan to develop the entire country and economy. To achieve this plan, which includes all aspects of life in the Kingdom, we cannot follow the old approach that has dictated our lives for several generations. Therefore, in just four years, life has dramatically changed in Riyadh and Jeddah, and even in smaller Saudi cities. Cinemas have opened, women are publicly driving on roads, cafes are open for all, and more women than men now shop in malls across the country. All of these were until recently forbidden. Last week, the final restriction on women was lifted, as a set of amendments were issued by the government, providing Saudi women with equal rights. This includes equality before the courts, the ability to work without the consent of a husband or guardian, and the ability to travel freely. The long list of prohibitions and obstacles that have been placed upon women has finally been lifted by the Saudi government. Ironically, while the rights of Saudi women now outweigh the rights of women almost everywhere else in the region, a fierce campaign continues to discredit Saudi Arabia, and the crown prince specifically. Saudi Arabia’s critics fail to understand the priorities of the Saudi people. They do not realize the importance of these major changes unfolding within the Kingdom. These reforms will undoubtedly impact Saudi Arabia’s Arab and Islamic surroundings. It is a positive project that will change our region for years to come. –Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed

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