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Aziza Yousef drives a car on a highway as part of a campaign to defy Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 29, 2014 (AP photo by Hasam Jamali).

Saudi Arabia’s Young Crown Prince Owns the Reform Process, for Better or Worse

Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017

The royal decree permitting Saudi women to apply for driver’s licenses in June 2018, issued late last month, was a highly visible statement of intent from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that his plans to modernize and reform Saudi Arabia remain on track. Uncertainty over the viability of the crown prince’s much-vaunted plans to transform the Saudi economy had mounted after the partial reversal of austerity measures last April and reports in September that the National Transformation Program, a series of economic reforms with a target date of 2020, was being revised.

Slower than expected progress on restructuring Saudi Aramco, the state oil company and proverbial cash cow, ahead of its partial privatization reinforced skeptics’ concerns that it was proving harder to translate vision into reality in a kingdom unused to rapid shakeup on the scale conceived by the 32-year-old crown prince. And yet, the acceleration of a generation of young royal family members into leadership positions has injected fresh faces into decision-making structures and provided the springboard for the more substantive reforms that are yet to come. ...

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