Samah Hadid, the deputy director of Amnesty International, said that most human rights activists in the country were either in prison or on trial, their whereabouts still undisclosed. The others, she added, risk arrest at any time. MBS is clearly remaking Saudi Arabia in his image, while proving to be just as authoritarian as the rulers before him.
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Khalid Alkhudair has pushed for additional legislation that will make it easier for women to enter the workforce, such as mandatory maternity leave and onsite nurseries for firms that employ 50 women or more. However, barriers to women’s employment remain, including the continuing ban on women driving.
However, investing in the infrastructure alone will not free Saudi society from the shackles of a medieval mindset that governs all aspects of life: the relationship between the ruler and those ruled, between men and women and between native and migrant labour. Scientific thinking needs a socially and intellectually fertile environment to flourish. That environment has yet to emerge in Saudi Arabia.
Whatever the case, such dramatic changes come at a price. The crown prince is consolidating power to a degree Saudi Arabia has not seen in generations. MBS has dismantled that system, alienating almost everyone and fundamentally altering the governance dynamics of the kingdom. By consolidating power, MBS seems to be offering a larger degree of social freedom, but there can surely be little room for dissent during this mega-transformation.
Foreign investment was trending up again in the second quarter of 2017, but it remains to be seen how investors will react to political developments. The political turmoil, which has seen the arrests of dozens of princes, ministers and businessmen in what has been presented as an anti-corruption sweep led by the crown prince, prompted an increase in oil prices but also may have unsettled potential investors
Judges and political commentators, some renowned for criticizing extremists, have been seized. Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd has also been imprisoned. Some critics speculate that Mohammed bin Salman is cracking down on anyone who disagrees with his diplomatic feud with Qatar, especially those who believe that the Gulf crisis has exposed the limits of Saudi Arabia’s power in the region