For the first time in Saudi Arabia, women were invited to attend a public performance.
This weekend the country is celebrating 87 years since its founding. The event includes various artists in concert and other performances.
The operetta was a telling of Saudi Arabia’s founding by Ibn Saud, son of King Salman. Crowds cheered at the pageant of camels, horses, fountains, pyrotechnics and a corps of 100 dancing swordsman and drummers. Adding to the momentous occasion was an unveiled woman and two dozen girls on stage. In a country where the Wahhabi branch of Sunni Islam dominates the culture, this commingling of the sexes in a stadium is true progress.
25 year old Saudi woman, Sultana, with fellow girlfriends in tow, said “It is the first time I have come to the stadium and I feel like more of a Saudi citizen. Now I can go everywhere in my country.”
These sweeping changes are part of the two year old reform program, Vision 2030, which seeks to ease the confines of the lifestyle and promote economic diversity, beyond the oil industry, which the country is known most for.
As a testament to Saudi Arabia’s revolution, King Salman tweeted, “The kingdom will remain a bulwark for those who love benevolence, their religion and their country.”