On June 21st 2017, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud was appointed the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and has since been modernizing the Kingdom. Under Vision 2030, MBS has key goals to diversify the country’s economy and has major developments underway to put Saudi Arabia on the map as an attractive tourist destination.
Over the last 3 years, the Saudi Crown Prince has launched landmark initiatives, taken major strides towards gender equality, and has championed rights for women. AboutHer.com takes a look at some of the Kingdom’s most notable changes and events since MBS’s appointment…
It's been exactly three years since Mohammed Bin Salman was appointed as the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. We've seen positive reforms to women's rights, the economy, cultural entertainment, and so much more.— About Her (@AboutHerOFCL) June 21, 2020
Here's to celebrating many more years of MBS! pic.twitter.com/dIvjlX8xdY
Getting down to work, in September 2017, a royal decree lifted a decades-long ban on women driving and they were finally able to hit the roads with their new driving licenses starting from June 24th, 2018.
In a bid to loosen strict conservative laws, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledged to return the country to moderate Islam at the inaugural Future Investment Initiative.
In a first, the Ministry of Justice released a circular to courts that allows divorced women to instantly retain custody of their children and practice guardianship.
Maintaining a positive and progressive stance on women’s rights, a royal decree ended restrictions on women traveling. Women aged 21 and over are allowed to travel independently as of August 20th 2019. Previously, a male guardian had to give his approval for women to do so.
From launching an international music festival to inviting people to discover Saudi Arabia’s historical and cultural sites, tourist e-visas were offered for the first time in September 2019. Visitors from 49 countries can use the new visas. The Kingdom’s mandatory conservative dress code for visitors also was relaxed.
A royal decree approved physical education programs at girls’ schools for the coming academic year, which falls under the Vision 2030 goal of boosting sports in the Kingdom.
Finally, female football fans became allowed to attend matches in Saudi Arabia for the first time at the Al-Ahli vs. Al-Batin game in Jeddah.
The highly anticipated WWE’s Royal Rumble takes place in Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City, beginning a 10-year partnership between the WWE and the General Sports Authority.
“Clash on the Dunes” was the first ever heavyweight boxing title match to be staged in the Middle East. Taking place in the kingdom’s capital of Riyadh, Anthony Joshua went head to head with Andy Ruiz Jr.
The Dakar Rally was another first for the kingdom as it was the first time it had ever taken place in the Middle East, and was a major move for Saudi Arabia to host its inaugural edition.
The Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, is Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. In October 2017, the first Future Investment Initiative was an organized event which gathered investors, innovators, government officials and economic leaders in Riyadh.
In November 2017, The Misk Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic group founded by MBS, held the first Misk Global Forum in Riyadh which bought young leaders together with global innovators.
In a trailblazing announcement, The Ministry of Commerce and Investment announced that Saudi women do not need the permission of a male guardian to start their own business.
In 2018, Mohammed Bin Salman launched a project that would be to build the Kingdom’s first nuclear research reactor, with plans announced for 16 nuclear facilities to be constructed over the next 25 years at a cost of $80 billion USD.
In December 2019, state owned company, Saudi Aramco’s IPO began listing on the local stock market, Tadawul, raising $25.6 billion, making it the world’s largest IPO.
After a 35 year ban on cinemas, the first commercial movie theater opens in Riyadh with a screening of “Black Panther.” Many cinemas have since opened around the kingdom for people to enjoy.
For the first time in its history, Saudi Arabia participates in the Cannes Film Festival with the Saudi Film Council hosting a pavilion in the International Village.
Enrique Iglesias, Amr Diab and the Black Eyed Peas were among the first international performers at the Formula E in Riyadh, for which the first trial tourist visas are granted.
“Saudi Seasons” is a series of festivals staged throughout the Kingdom. The first began in the Eastern Province and hosted the region’s first international music performances, with international acts including Pitbull and Akon.
Earlier this year, the first edition of Desert X Al Ula saw 14 large-scale sculptures by artists from Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and the US transform the landscape.