Saudi women get to live their dreams thanks to the Crown Prince
The 32-year-old famously outspoken Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has been fast emerging a powerful leader and catalyst in society since he took office on June 21 this year.
During an investor meet held in October at Riyadh, the Prince said, “We are returning to what we were before -- a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world.” He further added that Saudi won't spend next 30 years dealing with destructive ideas. "Extremism would come to an end, very soon," he asserted. Although he faced a lot of criticism and adverse comments from the conservative clerics, the Prince continued with his pledge in bringing about the slow yet propitious positive changes in Saudi.
On September 26, 2017 King Salman ordered that women would be allowed to drive cars, ending a longstanding stain that had become an emblem of the Islamic kingdom’s repression of women. This historical decision was a milestone for the Saudi women activists who have been fighting for it since more than 25 years. They have campaigned, petitioned to the King, and posted videos of themselves behind the wheels on social media which even brought them exile and jail over decades.
On the other hand these moves by the Crown Prince not only garnered praise from the world leaders but also brought him one step closer towards capping the Wali system wherein women are traditionally kept under the male guardianship; where the man of the house or any male is given control over almost all the aspects of the woman's life.
Prior to the announcement on women drivers,on September 23, Saudi Arabia's National Day, hundreds of women entered a sports stadium in Riyadh, which is mostly used for football matches, for the first time in history. After this initiation, on October 30, Saudi Arabia announced women would be allowed in sports stadiums from the next year where earlier only males were granted entry. This remarkable move clearly hints that Saudi is swiftly heading towards “Vision 2030” plan for economic and social reforms. These vital steps are fraught with risk and considered to be liberal reforms in a conservative country, but they have certainly proved as a gift for women who have been suppressed for ages and tied to a chain of patriarchy.
Adding more to his pile of liberal reforms, the Prince made yet another historic announcement on December 11. A resolution was passed paving the way for licenses to be granted to commercial movie theatres, with the first theatre expected to launch in March, 2018. The government hopes to issue licenses to over 300 cinemas by 2030. The theatres which had shut down in the year 1980 due to a wave of ultra conservatism are going to see a new dawn under a liberal vision.
While some believe that there is a hidden agenda behind such developments, Saudi women can't be happier living their dreams and clipping the wings of religious mores.