Saudi Arabia has adopted strict austerity measures to combat the dual effect of falling oil prices and the coronavirus crisis. Unlike previous measures that were lifted when oil prices recovered, a July 1 VAT increase (from 5% to 15%) is more likely to stay in place, which could present challenges to low-income families, businesses, and plans to revive domestic tourism.
Sara Almohamadi is an associate fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.
The relaxation of social norms in Saudi Arabia has proved to be both emboldening and disorienting.
The Saudi government is moving forward steadfastly with its social modernization project, but the new policies are clashing with established norms, creating inconsistencies and uncertainties in social spaces.