Saudi Arabia has in recent years undergone a rapid process of liberalization, in particular relating to the status of women. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has recently even allowed a mixed gender beach – which permits bikinis – in Jeddah at the Red Sea. At the same time is there an international organized campaign against MBS as apparently instigated by the forces of the international Muslim Brotherhood due to the murder of the Islamist journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This is understandable since the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists are persecuted by MBS in today’s Saudi Arabia as designated terrorists.
While the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia remains deplorable, the achievements of liberalization are undeniable and the rolling back of Wahhabi control over society is admirable. Women now have the right to vote and the right to drive and are no longer forced to wear the niqab. There is no question that Saudi Arabia is a model for other Muslim countries in systematically liberalizing society while holding back democratization which would only lead to Islamists winning the elections so what would be the point of that?