By Jennifer Carter, Web Editor
Saudi Arabia has a full monarchy with King Salman of the House of Saud currently in power. He appointed his son, Mohammad bin Salman (“MbS”) as heir apparent after removing the traditional successor, Muhammed bin Nayef, from all political positions. King Salman has appointed his 32-year old son to positions of power before, including Crown Prince in 2017, and introduced him to the world as a possible successor.
In the year since being appointed Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman has already began political moves away from the Saudi Arabia of old to bring the country to the forefront of the technology and energy movements.
MbS announced Saudi Vision 2030, a comprehensive scheme to achieve this new Saudi Arabia.  It highlights decreased dependence on oil (Saudi Arabia produces one-fifth of the world’s supply) by selling shares in Aramco, the state’s oil monopoly and the world’s most valuable company. This step will serve to garner an increase in the private economy, as most people are employed by the state.
The initiative also focuses on renewable energy, specifically by creating a “green” city run by robots to be built on the Red Sea. Tourism is another focus of the initiative, concentrating of offering visas for people to visit this year, and attempts to keep vacationers in the country.
Saudi Vision 2030 is not only an initiative that will bolster Saudi Arabia’s economy, but it also seeks to convert the image of the country internationally into one that is forward thinking and progressive. As one of the most conservative countries in the world, Saudi Arabia struggles with balancing tradition and economic goals. MbS has introduced other political initiatives along with Saudi Vision, such as lifting the ban on female driving and entering sports stadiums, restricting the powers of the religious police, and encouraging the increase of women in the work force.
The state has heeded Mohammad bin Salman’s commitment to social progress – earlier this year Saudi Arabia hosted its first Fashion Week in Hiyad. Despite weather delays, the show provided an opportunity to highlight Arab designers and showcase a slight shift from the traditionally conservative apparel women wear in Saudi Arabia and other countries with high Muslim populations.
MbS has also led the nation to shift away from male guardianship laws. Under the current male guardianship system – which stems from Shariah law – women must have a father, husband, brother, or other male make decisions for them and approve actions they may take. The movement #IAmMyOwnGuardian began as a street art statement, but it has since transmogrified into a social media movement calling for revolution of the guardianship system and equality for Saudi women. The hashtag placed the restrictive Saudi Arabian laws on international watch and has gained support worldwide.
While Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman sprung a cultural and economic revolution into action, rights for women in Saudi Arabia have a long way to go. Ideally, the demand for women in the workforce will increase with economic changes, and social policies will follow. As the country begins to see women in the workplace, on the road, and at entertainment events, the introduction of women in society will likely become normalized and the reduction of guardianship laws easier to swallow.
 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/22/world/middleeast/saudi-women-guardianship.html, https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/05/09/saudi-arabia-unofficial-guardianship-rules-banned