Women and the Saudi revolution | The Economist

Saudi Arabia is like no
other place on earth. It follows an extreme
interpretation of Islam that many think has fed
the ideology of jihadist groups such as Islamic State. The Al Saud rulers gave
their name to the country and rule as absolute monarchs. Punishments can be extreme
including death by the sword. And there are harsh curbs on women. They must cover up in public and gender segregation is common. Even McDonald’s has a separate
eating area for single men. But a revolution has begun. It’s led not by people on the
streets but by the king’s son, the powerful young crown
prince Mohammad Bin Salman. He’s promoting a more
moderate form of Islam. He recently lifted the
ban on women driving. Cinemas have opened for
the first time in decades and to celebrate the end
of Eid, there was even a music festival in Riyadh. So this place this evening
is pretty powerful evidence that Saudi Arabian society
really is changing fast. Men and women are mingling freely, a concert’s about to start. Frankly it seems like a
pretty ordinary evening at a kind of Western fun fair. When I was here two and a half
years ago in Saudi Arabia, concerts were forbidden,
there were no cinemas, and there were certainly no women driving. I’m going on a road trip
to find out what a more moderate Saudi Arabia would
mean for the rest of the world. I remember very well when
I got my driver’s license. I was 17 almost 18. Being able to borrow
my parents’ car really did give a sense of freedom. I can just imagine what it
must be like for Saudi women who are driving for the first time. Saudi women are well educated. They account for 60% of
university graduates. But strict social conventions
limit their prospects. Only 20% of women work
compared with 80% of Saudi men. This is Noor Shabib, she was
the first Saudi woman to work as an engineer in oil drilling. Today she is driving in
Riyadh for the first time. This is so surreal. I have a terrible sense of direction. I’m gonna be very dependent on Google. I know I’m very excited. In a country with
limited public transport, and a very hot climate,
cars are necessities. Before the ban was
lifted, Noor had to employ a driver to take her to work. But many Saudi women
cannot afford that luxury. For people who couldn’t afford drivers, presumably that means
that they can now work in a way that working
was much harder before. Being able to drive and
having the choice to do so will develop women to be more responsible and mature and therefore more ready and attractive to employers to hire. So for me, Saudi Arabia’s
always been somewhat paradoxical in that it is
full of extraordinarily well educated women and yet
it has one of the lowest rates of female labor
participation in the world. That suggests there’s huge untapped potential in this country. We’ll get there but I
think that the message across the board has been
very positive, has been very encouraging, has been very
empowering, and so I think it’s just the first step
on an excellent path. One reason for the crown
prince’s social reforms is economic necessity. For decades, Saudi Arabia
has been an oil rich country who’s people have essentially lived off the fat of oil revenues. More than 80% of government
revenue comes from oil and if you look forward a few years, that’s just simply not sustainable. Oil prices are volatile and the government can no longer afford its
wasteful system of easy public sector jobs, mostly reserved for men, and generous benefits and subsidies. One solution is to get
more women into work and that means easing
social restrictions on them. But there is a worrying dark side. There really has been genuine
social reform in this country but this change is very top down. It’s driven by the crown
prince, it’s driven by the royal family, but the
sad irony is that even as this modernization
drive is taking place, he has become even more
autocratic and frankly the place has become more repressive. Several of the women who
have been campaigning for greater rights for women were recently arrested and locked up. We tried for this film
to talk to on camera several people who have
been in the past critical of the regime and no
one anted to talk to us. Arrests and death sentences have risen sharply under prince Mohammad. Over 60 executions have been
carried out this year alone. Yet the prince seems popular. Especially among the young in a country where 70% are under 30. But will that last? So, we’re looking at a young generation who has come back mostly
from scholarships abroad, new ideas, fresh ideas,
and with an understanding of something that they’ve
learned abroad culturally that they would like to
see implemented here. Hoda Al-Helaissi was
one of the first women to join the Shura Council
which advises the government. What’s the most likely
thing that could go wrong? Frankly speaking, I think
that if the aspirations of this younger generation
who have all their hopes in what we will consider
to be a great leader, if their aspirations are not answered, and if they are impatient,
that could backlash. That’s my worry. The world has every
interest in the success of the crown prince’s reforms. If he can show that Saudis
can be modern, productive, and good Muslims, it will
help spread stability in the region and more moderate
Islam across the globe. But Prince Mohammad is making enemies. Religious puritans don’t
approve of his social reforms and some princes resent his power grab. Rumors of coups swirl around Riyadh. That might explain the
greater political repression. And yet democratic reforms could help. They would allow the prince
to use his new popularity with the young and women to
create a new support base. So far, though, there’s no sign that he will ever go that far.

100 thoughts on “Women and the Saudi revolution | The Economist

  • I been driving since I was 16 years old. My parents encouraged me to get a part time job while I go to school. My parents encouraged me to travel. I still can’t understand that in 2019 man would not be happy for woman to help them out…. by driving,working etc.

  • Please just shut up. If you just researched properly about Islam, you'll see how heartbreaking it is to see the ONLY good country with an Islamic shariah law falling apart. Why attack a religion? I think it's low and cheap. Who's going to explain the harsh punishments for people who don't know?? Well, it's certainly not HER.

  • There is no moderate islam and there is no need of it. Unless untill one read the Holy Quran noone can understand what Islam is all about. Islam respects women and gives their rights noone is forced to do anything in Islam.So dont try to judge people by their appearances and culture.

  • There is no moderate islam and there is no need of it. Unless untill one read the Holy Quran noone can understand what Islam is all about. Islam respects women and gives their rights noone is forced to do anything in Islam.So dont try to judge people by their appearances and culture.

  • This reporting is totally false. What a lame excuse for journalism. Bin Salman is no reformer–hes having activists jailed and killed and had journalist Kashoggi killed at the embassy. What a pack of lies propaganda.

  • Saudis are wahabis they are the worst Moslems you can come across I worked with a few on my trip to New York and Bangkok
    They all drink sleep around and the men are bisexuals they claim to be holy Moslems i can’t stand them and I hope Israel wipes them off this earth 😡

  • I live in Saudi. The driving ban is only lifted on women over the age of 30. still no luck for us 😔

  • Saudi Arabia is most mysterious country in the world i lived there 3 years but descrimination are too much,and no value of human being there expect saudi. totally hell country.

  • The "Saudi revolution" is a slit in the Burka so they can show their eyes. What Bullshit. Bin Salman is a MURDERER control FREAK. SAUDI IS A FASCIST TOTALITARIAN SOCIETY. You and your video are a CHICHI propaganda bum message. Slave work is the order of the day stupid.

  • Doesn't matter what they do, they are still barbaric with their sharia law and their religion.

  • @The Economist….. Starting this video off with saying that the people of ksa follow extreme practice of Islam was totally wrong and incorrect your facts are dead wrong and a lie. People lets boycott this persons or persons YouTube account

  • Bismillah he is coming (the master of deception) may allah protect all the true believer .and pray (don't take this as a simple joke because look around u )

  • Every Saudi woman is a queen compering with women in West- she is real slave, Muslim women cover herself to satisfy her Lord not because of her housbend or father. But you like to speak in the name of all Saudi womans, whay you didn't ask others and see what is the truth.
    And pleace…all this comments based on emotions and sterotypes…it is very far from the truth, no one of you know how is life of Saudi Muslim women, but if you know you will be very very very surprised. So don't speak what you don't know for sure.

  • It is connected to culture, and the clash is between the western and Arab culture, nothing to do with Islam.Ucan see Arab men also covering their heads and wear a large top similar to Abaya. Islam never force any believer irrespective of the gender in the way of dressing. Islam sticks to point, keep ur eyes and ur private parts from evil things.
    In the case of women quran consider her safety as well. According to my understanding as a compulsory she was adviced to cover private parts and bosoms if she has a confidence in keeping her purity. And the rest depends on the environment, safety, modesty, culture… Etc etc.
    God knows best..

  • I live in Saudi and I'm from Scotland. I've been shouted at for accidentally going into the male part at Starbucks and screamed at like properly screamed at for not wearing an aubia and just remember I'm a teen.

  • Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “There are two types of people who will enter the Hell-fire, whom I have not (as yet) seen: People having whips similar to ox-tails with which they will beat people, and (secondly) women who will be dressed yet appear to be naked. They will seduce men and be inclined towards them. Their heads will be like the swaying humps of bacterial camels. They will neither enter paradise, nor smell its fragrance, even though its fragrance can be smelt from such and such distance.” (Sahih Muslim, no. 2128)

  • Imam Muslim (r) narrated that Abu Hurayrah (RA) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There are two types of the people of Hell whom I have not seen…” one of whom was, “women who are clothed yet naked…” According to Imam Ahmad (r) he said: “Curse them, for they are cursed.”

  • I wonder how much they payed the journalist to give a good review of the country and show they are “changing”. That’s why hundreds of women are trying to escape.

  • Oooh, yeah suuurrreee, it's lovely; That Sharia Law- So compromising, sooo forgiving & oh yeah- so willing to change & be casual.
    Yep- Just another beautiful & sweet, "regular day," for these women who are being held under ISLAMic Law.
    W A K E U P, people!😭 My God- The ONE TRUE GOD, who IS THE God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob, Reveals MANY "End Time," Prophecies to me, for the past several years. This is NOT bc I am more holy or better than any of His true Followers, [&,..] One thing He said "Islam will be the ONE WORLD RELIGION," that's spoke of in the Holy Bibles, KJV Book of Revelation.
    SO AGAIN, PLEASE W A K E U P, people!😭

  • Saudi arabian women are slowly modernizing compare from 2010, but saudi economic collapse is inevitable

  • Of you want to westernize Saudi, than westernize it with the good elements of the west. Such as good education, technology, etc…

    Not "only" the haram elements, such as nightclubs.

  • I don't want democracy, it will be like reinstalling religious supremacy again. And regarding his grasp on power, I approve it, power with people like him is a good thing.

  • Yeah saudi really is like no other place in the world i mean women cant walk the strewts with open hair lmao

  • They trying hard to destroy the Islamic culture these lesbians and homosexuals tech us how to dress up we goona hate these nudity and adultry if saudi king allowed its him idea and what the crown prince do is not islamic shariya

  • If the 90%muslim follow the western culture then you people really happy but remember if 10%muslim on with aqeeda e tauheed then Insha Allah gave the power to demolish all culture and only one culture wiil be leave only islam insha Allah

  • what about your country women some murder some are raped they have no respect for women. woman are used as they use the tissue

  • What a pathetic propaganda piece. How much was the economist paid to produce this untruthful and misleading PR

  • Mark my words, soon Saudi women will help make up the statistics of the #me too movement. Then they will realize how much safer they were. All the best, sisters.

  • Can you imagine how the pioneers could have opened up the frontier in the United States if women had been held in bondage? Women were needed to handle tough jobs as a partner. Keeping women in bondage means using half your brain power. Glad my wife is smart and independent.

  • I love how this country is changing ways for women because is a new time in life for women.
    The Prince is good for being open minded about womem rights .

  • The Islamic world can thank Muhammad for their Glory?? Muslims this is what Muhammad left you guys behind just pretty system of government?? Muslims you can thank Muhammad for this?

  • , they will never get it through because they follow the Quran and the Haiths women are doomed a Saudi Arabia all the Islamic world


  • Women driving : excellent , but music is forbidden in Islam because music creates hypocrisy in ones hearts.




  • How did this reporter get away with not wearing an abaya? I know for a fact that foreign women too have to wear abayas in Saudi _not headscarves, but abayas yes.

  • The new ideas of the people coming back from other countries may not work because the way it is accepted and done in other countries is usually contingent or connected or linked to the flow or way society operates.

  • You the women must Istablish an unerground organization to panish the main responsible this crime. Are the religion leaders.
    (In all religionds the girdt turget to ride and dlavr & abuse the female – no exceptional) kill them iven if the male is your beloved father/brother/husband/son. It happend to you because their silent. If they would suffered like that from thr religious leaders they would mske a revolution and fight. But seance it was convinient to them snd it derved their nead to control snd slave the woman thry were happy with it. They chang it now because they nead you to work (& to travel free) to add selery to the family. Otherwise they would never change it.
    Dont forget it. Punidh them severly. At least they will afraid going on to Deside anything about you over your head like you are their own sheep. Istablish eomen orgsnisstions and mskr s daily hanit to meat at least one group women a day. Lestn to Traver sll over the vountry net.
    The women creat the male. You can not let crrsting your enimy.
    Thr chromosomes from the femaled and from the msles are nothing thry just instructions to make the sPacifica as their image baby like thr cook book that full of possible instructions to bake cakes. The owner of the cake is only the person who brought all the instruments and all the materials and did the baking job. Thr woman body contribute all the materials of the baby foing all thr job and pay by her energy and health. The baby body belong to the female. The marriage was dlaving the woman body for work serve enjoy and breed.
    All of those are crimes.
    Dont forgive.
    If you want children fo it for yourself. Dont share your parentdhip on your child to any male. It is the most expensive priceless present that the male do not deserve it and never worth it. Own solitary yourself – body and your children.

  • This guys don’t even believe in islam … islam doesn’t restrict women … muslim women should have freedom to work and also do whatever they want to do … you should come and take a look at the Somali community where we treat our girl child / woman equally as men … you could find a woman leading a company that employs more than 5000 people

  • They use a lot of perfume and makeup too but one thing is confusing, doesn’t makeup defeat the very purpose of wearing a burqa or hijab !

  • love your story and yes,the new king gas two sides to him one brung Saudi Arabia into the modern world but he still has tge right to kill you not a good thing for any leader king Charles1st tryed that and he lost his head ????

  • Saudi revolution??????? the prince is only making himself seem progressive to distract the public from his many many violations of human rights. many saudi journalists and activists are STILL in jail for peacefully voicing their opinions.

  • Now we have automatic cars that drive themselves while somewhere is a bunch of ignorant below avrrage fellows barring women from driving?

  • Guess this was before MBS had one of our citizens murdered & dismembered in Turkey bc as a reporter, he had criticized S.A.

  • Ah The Economist, you are doing another propaganda run to your US master to portray that Saudi is more open, free and liberal country. Yeah The Economist we know who you are. You have to justify where your masters (US and its allies) money end (Saudi). Next stop talking about 'evil' of Iran and Russia.

  • But even a 'liberal' Saudi Arabia will still be an attack dog for Israel and the US Elites against the poor people of the Middle East. Monarchy is so yesterday.

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