By Kareem Chehayeb, Amnesty International's Gulf researcher
At the World Economic Forum at Davos this week, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir announced ambitious new plans for a “fundamental transformation” of the country.
“The world is not used to seeing Saudi Arabia moving quickly and boldly,” he told assembled world leaders.
It was the latest move in Saudi Arabia’s recent PR offensive, which has seen Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman promise modernization and lift the notorious ban on women driving. But changes so far have been superficial and serious human rights violations, both at home and abroad, remain major obstacles to meaningful reform in Saudi Arabia.
While women drivers and newly legalized cinemas may make headlines, they barely scratch the surface of the reform needed within the country. Human rights violations aren’t sporadic; they are systematic, and Saudi Arabia needs to effect a fundamental structural change if it is serious about progress.
Here are some key steps that Saudi Arabia needs to take if it wants to fulfil its ambitions: