If this promotional video is any indication, the future for women in Saudi Arabia will be radically different than today.
The ad features women running in sports bras and working side by side with men, often without the head-covering hijab. It is in stark contrast to present-day life in Saudi Arabia, which until last month was the only country where women were not allowed to drive. Women are still are required to obtain permission from male guardians to travel, obtain passports, sign contracts and get married or divorced. Public buses, parks, beaches and amusement parks are segregated.
Still, the promotional video paints a more progressive vision of the future. It was tied to a proposed $500 billion development called “Neom,” a supercity that would be a hub for technological innovation.
In a speech announcing the project, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said he imagines a city where drones, driverless cars and robotics work together to ensure there’s no traffic. He also mentioned cutting-edge research into energy and water, along with biotechnology, food and manufacturing.
The crown prince also stressed that he wants to steer his country toward a more moderate version of Islam:
Skeptics, however, dismiss the country’s interest in “moderate islam” as a marketing ploy.