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Saudi Arabia’s Year of Firsts

Under Vision 2030, the brainchild of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom has seen major steps towards transforming an diversifying its economy and over the course of 2019, there have been a number of firsts for the country.

From women’s rights and their participating in major sporting and cultural events across the kingdom, to launching tourist visas for the first time in the country’s history, these are the monumental things Saudi Arabia did this year…

Saudi Women Were Appointed Roles As Public Prosecutors
Gender equality has been a key focus for Saudi Arabia in the past couple of years, and this August, came another first for the women of the kingdom as 50 females were appointed the role of public prosecutor investigators for the first time in the country’s history.

This news was one of many headlines as thousands of women are now applying to take up employment in the kingdom’s workforce.

Saudi’s Souk Okaz Festival Allows For Female Equestrians To Participate
The Souk Okaz Festival was, once upon a time, a seasonal market which operated for 2 weeks every year, and it was an important trade event at which Arabs would meet to formalize tribal rules, settle disputes, pass judgments, make agreements, announce treaties and truces, hold sporting competitions and races, poetry competitions, and religious gatherings.

Rediscovered, the event takes place in Saudi Arabia annually and this year’s event made history as a group of female equestrians performed at the festival for the first time in it’s history.

Coming from a number of countries within the Arab world, as well as Saudi Arabia, the equestrians participated in an event called "ForsanOkaz" (Knights of Okaz), in which they rode horses alongside men.

The Kingdom Welcomed International Tourists Via E-Visas
In the past, the only way to visit Saudi Arabia and obtain a visa was if you were a pilgrim, on business, or if you had a local sponsor, or family in the kingdom.

Now, with the kingdom’s plans to launch an enticing tourism sector, it was only natural that tourist visas would be issued to those looking to holiday in Saudi Arabia.

In September 2019, it was announced that tourists from 49 countries would now be able to apply for visas via Saudi embassies, and this list was then altered to include nationals of particular countries on the term that they are, “holders of a valid commercial or a tourist visa issued by the US, the UK or the European Union's Schengen visa."

The Country Hosted A Women’s Wrestling Match
Proving that women are now being granted the opportunities that were once reserved for men only, Saudi Arabia hosted its first ever WWE women’s wrestling match on October 31st 2019.

WWE stars, Natalya and Lacey Evans took part in a landmark match which came as a part of one of Riyadh Season’s 100s of events.

The match took place after the kingdom’s sports authority signed a decade long deal with WWE, which will allow for Saudis to watch many more matches take place in their country.

Women Now Don’t Require A Male Guardian’s Approval To Travel
2019 not only allowed for tourists to travel to the kingdom, but elevated a Saudi woman’s right to travel outside of the kingdom.

In August 2019, a royal decree was granted to allow women, over the age of 21, their rights to travel outside of Saudi Arabia without the permission of a male guardian. This decree also determined that women would also be granted the right to apply for their own passports, register a marriage, child’s birth or divorce, apply for their children to travel outside of the kingdom, and be in possession of official family documents.

A Saudi University Became the First To Offer Music Courses
The kingdom’s Taif University became the first Saudi educational institution to offer up music courses this year. The university’s internal Arab Poetry Academy opened for submissions for their music and performance program.

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