Nine important ways change will unfold in Saudi Arabia this year

Saudis will be able to go to the cinema after a ban that lasted 35 years. (Shutterstock)

Change is approaching fast in several sectors in Saudi Arabia, ending their dependence on oil and bringing an economic overhaul from other sources, WTVA website reported.

Here are nine ways that the Saudi Arabian government will bring a wave of change to the kingdom:

Rise in oil prices

Saudi Arabia decided to make a 127% increase in oil prices starting January 1st making it reach 2.04 Riyals per liter.

The prices of most commercial goods and services have also risen with the application of a five percent VAT tax in the new year. This comes as part of the country’s efforts to increase government revenues from sources other than oil.

The return of movie theaters

Saudis will be able to go to the cinema after a ban that lasted 35 years. The government will provide permits for cinemas to be built this year, as it is expected for the first wave of movie theaters to open this March.

International and regional film companies are setting the expected opportunities in a new market that will include about 30 million people.

Women to start driving

The long ban on women driving will finally come to an end in June 2018, according to a royal decree announced last September.

This step is expected to contribute to the development and enhancement of women in the Saudi community and economy.

Saudi Arabian women currently constitute 22% of the workforce, but with the “Saudi Vision 2030” plan, the government is looking to increase the number to 30%.

Women allowed in sports stadiums

The General Sports Authority announced in October that three of the biggest stadiums in the kingdom will open their doors to women and families in 2018.

Tourists will be given visas

Tourists will be allowed to get visit visas to Saudi Arabia for the first time, which is a big change from previous years where only people who were going for business trips or pilgrimage were allowed visas.

The kingdom aims to boost tourism in 2018 by announcing several projects, among them plans to build touristic resorts on the coast of the Red Sea. The government aims to increase the number of annual tourists from 18 million in 2016 to 30 million by 2030.

Aramco will be privatized

A small stake in the Aramco oil company will be sold in 2018, according to Saudi officials. The listing is expected to be the biggest stock market listing in history.

It is expected that an initial public offering will value Aramco at around $2 trillion. If the market responds, selling only five percent would raise $100 billion.

Saudi Arabia has still not decided where to list Aramco. It's also reportedly keeping open the option of selling a stake to a strategic investor first.

Fighting sexual harassment

It is also expected for Saudi Arabia to start the implementation of an anti-harassment system in 2018. The plan, ordered by King Salman bin Abdulaziz himself, will include traffic control.

Tighter traffic control

Automated mobile monitoring will also be launched to detect mobile use and seatbelt violations, as well as drivers who jump red lights, among others.

Electricity prices

Electricity tariffs in Saudi Arabia will also increase in 2018. This move is aimed at raising economic efficiency and the contribution of non-oil sectors as an economic engine.

Last Update: Thursday, 4 January 2018 KSA 17:17 - GMT 14:17

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