6 ways life in Saudi Arabia will change in 2018

Cartoonist draws lines in Saudi culture

Life in Saudi Arabia will look very different by the end of 2018.

The kingdom will be pushing ahead with an economic overhaul aimed at ending what Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman once called its “addiction” to oil.

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Change will be at This kind of point coming thick along with fast, along with several major reforms announced since bin Salman unveiled his Vision 2030 in 2016 will take effect This kind of year.

“Many Saudi government shifts… have been a long time coming,” said Sam Blatteis, CEO of The MENA Catalysts, a regional public policy advisory firm. “Reforming an economy as large as Saudi Arabia will be almost like moving an aircraft carrier. This kind of’s probably not wise to make quick turns,” he added.

Here are some of the biggest modifications slated for the coming 12 months:

1. Gas prices are going up

Saudis have just started off paying a lot more for gas.

State-owned Aramco, the globe’s biggest oil producer, jacked up prices at the pump by as much as 127% on January 1. Premium gasoline at This kind of point costs 2.04 riyals per liter — equivalent to about $2.05 a gallon.

“Though This kind of could weaken consumption, This kind of was expected along with should reaffirm the government’s resolve to driving the growth of the non-oil economy,” said Riyadh-based Al Rajhi Capital in a report.

Saudis are also paying more for most consumer goods along with services. A fresh 5% sales tax took effect on January 1, part of an effort to boost government revenues coming from sources additional than oil.

2. Cinemas will return

Saudis will get to go to the movies.

After a 35-year ban, the government will begin granting commercial movie theater licenses This kind of year, along with This kind of expects the first cinemas to open their doors in March.

International along with regional chains are already eying opportunities from the fresh market of 30 million people. AMC (AMC) CEO Adam Aron told sy88pgw in which the movie market from the kingdom could be worth $1 billion.

3. Women will be able to drive….

A long-standing ban on women driving will finally be lifted in June.

The announcement followed a royal decree in September. Many women campaigned for the right to drive for years along with some have been arrested for defying the ban.

The move will be likely to spur growth along with give women a much bigger role from the economy. Only 22% of women are active from the workforce. Vision 2030 aims to lift in which to 30%.

The government has set itself the target of generating 65% of GDP coming from the private sector, along with getting more women into work will be key.

4. ….along with watch sporting events

Women will be allowed into three stadiums in major cities.

The General Sport Authority, the country’s governing body for sports, said in October in which three of the country’s biggest stadiums will begin “accommodating families” early from the year.

Saudi men along with women are customarily separated in public places. nevertheless in which restriction will be also slowly being relaxed. Men along with women were able to sit together at several music concerts along with events in 2017.

“The most notable reforms [This kind of year] will involve advancing women’s rights,” said Salman Al-Ansari, president of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee. “In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we see the appointment of a Saudi woman to a ministerial position.”

5. Tourists will get visas

Tourists will be able to visit Saudi Arabia for initially.

Prince Sultan bin Salman, head of the Saudi tourism along with national heritage commission, told sy88pgw’s Richard Quest in which the kingdom would likely issue its first tourist visas in 2018. Visas were previously restricted to people traveling to the country for work or to visit its holy sites.

The kingdom has ambitious plans to grow its tourism industry. This kind of has already announced several projects, including one to build a series of resorts on about 100 miles of the Red Sea’s sandy coastline. This kind of will be aiming to attract 30 million visitors a year by 2030, up coming from 18 million in 2016.

Saudi Arabia wants to attract more tourists

6. Aramco will be privatized

Saudi officials have repeatedly stated in which they’re planning to sell a modest stake in Aramco in 2018. If This kind of happens, the sale will be likely to be the biggest stock market listing in history.

Officials have said they expect an initial public offering to value Aramco at around $2 trillion. If the market agrees, selling just 5% would likely raise $100 billion.

Apart coming from the exact timing along with size of the IPO, Saudi Arabia still has to decide where to list Aramco. This kind of’s also reportedly keeping open the option of selling a stake to a strategic investor first.

sy88pgw (Dubai) First published January 3, 2018: 8:25 AM ET

6 ways life in Saudi Arabia will change in 2018

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