Azadeh Babainejad, in an article published in the Persian-language Shargh daily on Tuesday, has argued that the recent breaking of social taboos are in fact a way to impose economic austerity on the people of Saudi Arabia.
Here are excerpts of this opinion piece:
When the young Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke of his plan for economic developments in light of non-dependence on oil revenue and the need for social reforms called 2030 vision, few people in the country could predict that one day he will be able to break the domestic social taboos, especially those related to women’s rights. But this is just one side of the story, because well-informed politicians believe it is possible that in the path to implement the so-called 2030 plan, which contains rigid policies on energy use, public resentment would be provoked against him.
According to Karen Elliott House who is a senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, the Riyadh government is trying to distract its citizens from the negative outcomes of the country’s 2030 vision, by putting top on the agenda a series of welfare and recreational issues which have previously been banned, including music festivals, wrestling events and cheerful and comic programs that the government is responsible to organize.
In a country where a high number of people, especially the youths, are unemployed and 90% of workforce are foreigners, a lot of training and preparation is needed for making citizens ready to adapt to these changes.
Therefore, the government is trying to convince the Saudi people that the process of privatization and economic change is not just for the benefit of the rich and does not make them wealthier, but it is to improve the living conditions of all the Saudis.