The following is an excerpt from AFP.com | September 27, 2017 |
Saudi Arabia's historic lifting of a ban on women driving will be a litmus test for its king-in-waiting, who has sought to sideline the kingdom's arch-conservatives as he accelerates reforms, analysts say.
The kingdom will issue driving licences to women from next June, in the most striking reform yet credited to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, despite the risk of a backlash from hardliners.
But after his recent crackdown on dissenters, including prominent clerics with huge followings, experts say the prince may face only a muted opposition.
"The lifting of a ban... will likely serve as a litmus test for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's ability to introduce economic and social reforms despite conservative opposition," said James Dorsey, a fellow at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
"If last week's national day celebrations in which women were allowed to enter stadiums in anything to go by, the opposition is likely to be limited to protests on social media."
On Saturday, women were allowed for the first time into a sports stadium to mark national day, a move that chimes with the Prince Mohammed's "Vision 2030" reform plan.
Men and women also danced in the streets to drums and thumping electronic music, in scenes that were a stunning anomaly in a country known for its tight gender segregation and austere vision of Islam.
For more visit: AFP.com