Depending on your normal news source, you may have seen reports that some big changes are coming to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the not too distant future. Many of these changes are coming as a result of the country's Vision 2030 in which there is a push to diversify the economy of the Kingdom away from its reliance on oil, as well as to bring the country into a new era of tourism and industry. At the helm of this vision is the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has implemented a number of new projects and laws in the attempt to move the country toward its goals for the future.
It's probably pretty well known around the world that currently, women are not allowed to drive in the Kingdom. But according to a royal edict by King Salman, it seems that come June 2018, that long standing rule will cease, and women will be able to drive. There seems to be a lot of excitement regarding this, and several of my friends are eagerly learning to drive. All of this excitement and buzz probably doesn't mean that all the ladies will rush out and get their driver's licenses right away. I certainly don't want to drive in Jeddah any time soon, but it's definitely a step in a new direction!
There is also a rumor that a new 72-hour transit visa is available for direct flights from the United States on Saudia, the national carrier of Saudi Arabia. Though I haven't heard of anyone actually taking advantage of this visa, nor do I have any idea about how to attain said visa, the rumors have certainly been floating. I tried to find something in the news about this rumor, but I couldn't find anything. So, it might just that -a rumor.
There are a couple of major projects in progress along the Red Sea, as well. There is a new futuristic, mega city planned for an area in the far north crossing into Egypt and Jordan, called Neom. It will run only by wind and solar power, as it seeks to be the world's most efficient, sustainable city. According to sources, it is also going to be a completely paperless, highly automated city.
And only a couple of hours north of KAUST, there is a new tourist destination resort in the works along 50 untouched islands in the Red Sea. This will be the site of luxurious island hotels to rival those found in places like the Maldives. It will apparently be visa free and hopes to attract visitors from around the world. If it happens, we expect to have some visitors! Here is a great video about the project.
These are some major changes, and it will be interesting to watch these things as they materialize. I'm excited to be a firsthand witness to some of these historical changes. Which one do you think is the most interesting?