New life

The first fashion week in the history of the kingdom was held on 10 – 14 of April in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh as Gulf News reports. The show was attended by both Arab and international designers, including Roberto Cavalli and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Observers associate new trends in the life of the kingdom with the reforms of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud.

The fashion week was planned in February, but, as the show’s organizers say, it was postponed due to the growing number of participants. The showings were held in the evening and exclusively for the female audience. In an interview for the TV program “60 Minutes” on the CBS channel Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud noted that women should be able to choose what to wear and traditional black clothes is not now the only option here.

“We are very grateful for the trust and support,” Jacob Abrian, Executive Director of the Arab Fashion Council, said. According to the official website of the Arab Fashion Week, the works of fashion designers from 22 Arab countries, new collections of European couturier Jean-Paul Gaultier and Roberto Cavalli, collections of Russian designer Yulia Yanina and Kazakhstan fashion brand BibiSara were presented at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh.

Under the fashion week the first tours of the Russian ballet were held in the kingdom. At the closing ceremony the dancers of The Konstantin Tachkin Saint Petersburg Ballet Theatre presented fragments from the ballets “Swan Lake”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “The Nutcracker”, “La Bayadere” and “Don Quixote”.

Many media experts associate this steps with the prince’s liberalization policy who believes that Saudi society needs modernization. The prince himself is not alien to the interest in European values. On the eve of the fashion week he visited Paris and before the official part of the visit, together with Emmanuel Macron, French President, they have visited the exhibition of the artist Eugene Delacroix that opened in the Louvre according to the report of the Elysee Palace.

Over the past few months, the situation with women’s rights has changed significantly in KSA. They were allowed to attend football matches — apparently, it is a tribute to the approaching World Cup, which will be opened by the Saudi and Russian national teams. There is, however, some specificity. As Associated Press reported, on 12 of January 2008 Saudi fans attended the match for the first time which was held in the stadium in Jeddah where the game between the leading local teams took place. Special “family sectors” were established for the female fans. In the near future two more stadiums will be equipped with family sectors, including the stadium in the capital according to the press. In addition, such sectors which allow married couples and women accompanied by close relatives and sometimes friends begin to open in restaurants, hospitals and banks.

On 23rd of September 2017, Saudi Arabian women were invited for the first time in the history of the country to the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh for a musical performance in honor of the 87th anniversary of the founding of the country. With the submission of the Crown Prince in March, after a 35-year break, cinemas began to open in the capital of Saudi Arabia.

In September 2017, Salman bin Abdulaziz, Saudi King, issued a decree authorizing women to drive cars. A special agency is set up to control the situation and to help female drivers. Restrictions on this type of women’s leisure will be completely withdrawn in June 2018. However, it’s not just about leisure: women are becoming more and more a business part of society and their salaries gradually equalize with men’s. If desired, they can get a job even as personal drivers or taxi drivers but only for female clients.

The first international marathon was held on 24th of February 2018 in Riyadh, the capital of the Kingdom, in which 28 thousand Saudis and representatives of other countries competed. The runner from Ethiopia was the winner, who was awarded a prize of one million riyals (267 thousand dollars). 79-year-old kingdom’s national was the most experienced participant in the competition. The authorities of KSA were pleased with the idea so they approved the holding of the first female indoor marathon in the country’s history. Meantime this is an experiment: the first full-fledged national female open-air marathon is planned for next year.

In 2018, the Kingdom has planned more than 5 thousand entertainment events. Residents and tourists in 56 cities across the country will be able to visit musicals, shows for the whole family, performances of stand-up comedians, concerts, circus performances. In addition, the country’s first opera house will be built in the port city of Jeddah which also serves as a gathering place for pilgrims traveling to Mecca and Medina.

All this together is a big step for a country where concerts, music in restaurants and in shops were banned for the last two decades, Arab News said.

The course for the implementation of the program “Vision 2030” announced by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman guarantees equal rights and freedoms for all kingdoms’ nationals, and also foresees the involvement of women in public life. 2018 should become historical for the female half of the kingdom.