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TematicheMedio Oriente e Nord AfricaSaudi Arabia: From the Top-Down

Saudi Arabia: From the Top-Down

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Behind a vast ruling majority of these path breaking initiatives was Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the world youngest defense minister who at age 32 was elevated to the position of a crown prince in June 2017. Initiatives he has taken from the part of the “National Transformation Programme 2020” and “Vision 2030”. MBS prodigious and surprising initiate was the transformation in the gender equality with some major steps for women representation and empowerment. 2017 was a transformational period for the country with a series of new initiatives designed to promote gender equality, encourage economic diversification, root out corruption and make it attractive to investors and tourists.

June 2017 is considered a significant date for Saudi people whether they are with or against the new transformations made by the young prince in a conservative society that is following the religious law and far from any civil applications. According to most of the people this alteration is a huge step forward in Saudi Arabia and also in the surrounding countries, since Saudi Arabia is playing nowadays a major role in the area in addition to its influential role in the Islamic Sunni religion, where it is for all time considered to be the “House of Islam” and despite other countries especially north African ones where in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Islam is a way of life and a basic law of governance.

Unlike the Arab Spring, Saudi Arabia’s revolution is from the top-down, Mohammed Bin Salman announced the reforms and took several corrective actions. The reforms reflects the style and the hopes of the new Saudi generations. MBS is reading the desire of his young people and wanted to turn the country to “Modern Islam” and to transform the hardline kingdom to an open and modern society that will be able to empower its citizens. He declared that they are a G20 country with a huge economic power that is located in the middle of the three continent, so the reforms will help the region in many different fields. MBS said “We are simply reverting to what we followed, a moderate Islam open to the world and all religions. 70% of Saudis are younger than 30; honestly we won’t waste 30 years of our lives combatting extremist thoughts, we will destroy them now and immediately”

Bin Salman has a number of surprising reforms that were unveiled after taking power:

Gender Equality:  women in Saudi Arabia entered 2018 with more hopes and openness unlike the previous years. Those changes increased gender freedom and will bring gender parity in the social and economic sectors. In September 2017 driving ban were lifted and the announcement found support and opposition. The plan also involved gender qualifications in order to increase women’s participation in the work force and increase job for young people.

Women are now allowed to enter the sports stadium were prior to the reform women were out of the sports arenas due to the segregation between the two genders, females are no more isolated. Recently Saudi Arabian women rejoice in the Russian Stadium and attended football matches.

Saudi’s First Comic Con:  which is a new event held in February 2017 with pop art, video gaming and film where in the previous period this was totally prohibited in the country. The three-day festival was part of a government initiative to bring more entertainment to Saudi Arabia, which bans public cinemas and theater.

Entertainment city planned and Neom: MBS took a step forward for the future of the kingdom where he sets a plan for 2030 that aim to decrease Saudi Arabia independence of oil revenues and fortify its economy and develop the public services sector with high technological advancement. An entertainment city outside the capital will be build that will includes theme parks with US based developer and 6 flags involved in this new project.

Neom plan is a 26.500 sq. Km (10.230 square mile) which is a transnational city and economic zone to be constructed in Saudi Arabia and Egypt having energy and water, mobility, advanced manufacturing, technology and digital science and biotechnology.

In addition to the new entertainment city for the first time since 35 years cinemas in Saudi Arabia are able to open their door to the public. Added to that a series of concerts were hosted by Saudi Arabia and Saudi women queued up to attend those new concerts.

2017 was a transactional year in Saudi Arabia, especially for Saudi women since sex segregation will be decreased with women’s participation in the social and the economic fields. All those transformations made by the new unique Prince will definitely bring prosper and advancement in the kingdom especially that the country is playing a vital and influential role in the Islamic countries and in the Sharia interpretation and the way of governance. All this will affect the affiliated country with Saudi Arabia in term of religion; economic alliance will also increase due to the announcement of the new project “Vision 2030” hoping that all those changes will positively affect the stability and the peace in the Middle Eastern area in general and in the Arab world in particular since KSA is a regional power nowadays.

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