It’s not surprising to wake up nowadays to news about breaking developments in the era of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
These are in fact exciting times for anyone witnessing the reforms aimed at providing more freedoms to Saudi women and the modernization of an entire society, rewriting history in the 21st century.
But the past 48 hours were even more tantalizing, as we again witness a turning point in another year of laying the foundations for a more open society.
Here are your 5 new action packed events:
1. According to Reuters, a Saudi private company on January 11, 2018, opened the first car showroom for women following a historic decision late last year by King Salman to give Saudi women the right to drive. The decision will take effect in June 2018. The showroom was opened in a shopping mall in the western Red Sea port city of Jeddah to allow women the freedom to choose their own cars before they hit the road. It offers a wide selection of vehicles from various makes and is staffed by women only.
2. A study by CNN, published this Thursday, says that Uber and Careem, the companies behind the leading ride hailing applications in Saudi Arabia, are recruiting the first Saudi female drivers. Careem launched a series of 90-minute training sessions in the Saudi cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar, targeting Saudi women who have already acquired valid driving licenses while Uber has plans to open “one-stop-shop” facilities dedicated to recruiting future female drivers, according to CNN. Local media says that 10,000 women will drive taxis in the kingdom.
3. Al Sabq newspaper says that CINEMA 70, Saudi Arabia’s first cinema brand, will present a series of international family movies over six days this month starting Friday. The movies will be accompanied by various activities and events that will be the focus of attraction for the target audience. The series will begin with Captain Underpants and The Emoji Movie. A recent survey by Research firm Kantar TNS said 67 percent of respondents intend to visit the cinemas once they open.
4. Women aged 25 and above can now have a tourist visa to Saudi Arabia, without the need to be accompanied by a family member or companion, as reported by a spokesman for the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage on Thursday. “Regulations for tourist visas have been finalized and an electronic system is being built in coordination with the National Information Center and the Foreign Ministry,” Director General of the Commission’s Licensing Department, Omar Al-Mubarak, said.
5. Women will be able to attend three football matches from the Saudi Professional League in a first for the country starting Friday. The three stadiums which are set to hold the relevant fixtures have been specifically ‘adapted’ to allow for family and women’s seating. BBC reported that all unaccompanied adult women are permitted to enter stadiums in three major cities – Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.