In a landmark move, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has declared that wearing a headscarf is no longer a requirement for Saudi women.
In an interview with the CBS show “60 Minutes”, the Crown Prince said; “The laws are very clear and stipulated in the laws of Shariah (Islamic law): that women wear decent, respectful clothing, like men.”
The statement comes as the Crown Prince is in the USA for meetings with the President.
“This, however, does not particularly specify a black abaya or a black head cover,” he added. “The decision is entirely left for women to decide what type of decent and respectful attire she chooses to wear.”
The headscarf has long been associated with the country, but the new decision from the Crown Prince will certainly change the public perception of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi women have been the focus of several recent rulings which have expanded their rights, such as being allowed to vote and drive. Additionally, this year saw the first cinema screenings take place, after a 35-year ban was lifted.
Last month, a public jazz festival was held for the first time in Riyadh. This week the Women’s Economic Forum also opened in the capital. Sophie Le Ray, founder of the WIL Series, spoke of how the decision to hold the summit in Riyadh was another symbol of the ongoing change within the country.
“The empowerment of women is one of the keys to the modernization objectives set out in the ambitious Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program,” said Le Ray, “Economic performance, innovation, creativity and the economic landscape of the Arab world will be transformed by the skills, talents and labors of women.”
“Empowering women and moving toward a more inclusive society is just smart economics. We are past the point of just conversation, today is about action.” Sophie Le Ray – Women’s Economic Forum 2018
Ten years ago, this inaugural forum was held in Dubai, only attended by women, she explained. “Ten years later, we have both genders from all over the world to discuss and champion diversity. It’s a community which is captivating everyone.”