One thousand and one Arabian slights

Jane Kinninmont on why the liberalizing Saudi crown prince overreacted to western criticism

The World Today Updated 9 November 2020 Published 27 September 2018 2 minute READ

Jane Kinninmont

Policy and Impact Director, European Leadership Network

The young Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, pictured, has been on a mission to rebrand his country. But the latest spat with Canada indicates that his liberalizing approach to social life and economic reform does not extend to politics.

Since becoming crown prince in 2016, Prince Mohammed has adopted a frenetic agenda, promising reform on all fronts. He has swept away some of the heavy restrictions on social life, allowing cinemas to open and curbing the powers of the religious police. Since June, the country’s ban on women driving has vanished, with little overt opposition from the clerics who were once seen as dictating social norms.

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