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Seeing Saudi Changes Up Close – David Pollock (Washington Inst. for Near East Policy via Daily Alert)

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  • Seeing Saudi Changes Up Close – David Pollock
    During a visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia last month, I was able to get a glimpse into the Saudi social landscape and found that Saudi society was much less culturally conservative than it once was. This transformation is social rather than political. While the Saudi monarchy is allowing, and even promoting, the expansion of some personal freedoms, political freedom remains absent.
    Neither Saudi authorities nor Saudi public life are now as fundamentalist as they appeared to be just a few years ago. Extremists exist, I was told, but they are now scattered and unpopular. The religious police have been severely reined in; the clerical establishment mostly co-opted; and the hardline dissidents dismissed, blocked from social media, or even imprisoned in a few cases.
    Whereas a few years ago only non-Saudi men worked at hotel or business lobbies and reception desks, nowadays these jobs are filled by Saudi women, many of whom are fluent in English and comfortable interacting with members of the opposite sex. Yet almost all the Saudi women I saw in public are still fully covered. The writer is a fellow at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
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