Prince Salman’s decision to let women drive is a powerful response to Saudi clerics who threatened immorality if this were allowed. But the road to emancipation is still far for a prince with a penchant for autocracy.

Within Saudi Arabia, cinema’s have opened and music is encouraged but social liberalization is still centralized and run by government agencies. Despite its wealth, businessmen are more inclined to invest in Dubai which offers a neutral base. The prince’s desire to wean the kingdom’s economy off oil seems ambitious which makes 80% of the government revenue according to IMF. The prince’s apparently reckless handling of the Houthis in Yemen, which is now moving towards controlling port of Hodeida will escalate disease, suffering and more weapons.

The prince’s dream for a new and more modern Saudi Arabia can succeed if he makes the kingdom more welcoming for businesses; is religiously intolerant; socially liberal with a fair, efficient and transparent legislative system.


United Kingdom, July 3.