The crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has embarked on the social and economic renewal of Saudi Arabia, launching a national program known as Vision 2030 and announcing $500 billion to build a city of the future, Neom. Social changes looked promising: Gender segregation was easing up as women were granted attendance to sporting events, and the kingdom adopted an official goal for women to make up 30 percent of the workforce. Then last month, the kingdom escalated its crackdown on activists just weeks before rules allowing women to drive were implemented. Will the conservative and clerical class stand in the way of the crown prince and his claim to be a liberalizing reformer?


Malik Dahlan | Founder and Principal, Institution Quraysh for Law & Policy (iQ); Professor of International Law and Public Policy, Queen Mary University of London Law School

Malik Dahlan is the Chaired Professor of International Law and Public Policy at Queen Mary University of London. He is founder and principal of Institution Quraysh for Law & Policy (iQ) and a senior research fellow of the Rand Corporation. A GCC-qualified lawyer, CEDR-accredited mediator, and fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Dahlan is also international chair of Riverstone’s advisory board. His legal career includes heading the Middle Eastern practice of Covington & Burling and advising the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority. He was founding director of the Brookings Doha Center and has led several mediation and dispute resolution projects globally. Dahlan authored The Hijaz: The First Islamic State.

Steve Clemons | Editor in Chief, AtlanticLIVE; Washington Editor at Large, The Atlantic

Steve Clemons is Washington editor at large for The Atlantic and editor in chief of AtlanticLIVE. He’s a founder and senior fellow of the American Strategy Program at New America Foundation, where he was previously executive vice president, and a regular contributor to MSNBC and other outlets on foreign policy and politics. Previously, Clemons was executive vice president of the Economic Strategy Institute, senior economic and international affairs advisor to former senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), and founding executive director of the Nixon Center (now the Center for National Interest). He serves on the GLOBSEC International Advisory Board and writes and speaks frequently on national security, politics, and economic policy issues.

Hala Aldosari | Robert G. James Scholar Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

Hala Aldosari is a fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, researching the impact of “constrained choice” on women’s access to care, quality of care, and health outcomes in Saudi Arabia. She previously was a biomedical scientist, Health Ministry consultant, and health sciences lecturer in Saudi Arabia and a visiting scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute. Aldosari’s research and writings are featured in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Foreign Affairs, The Guardian, and others. A volunteering member of the Everywoman Everywhere Coalition and advisory board member of Human Rights Watch Middle East/North Africa Division and Gulf Center for Human Rights, her advocacy for women and human rights has won several awards.

Karen Young | Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute

Karen Young is a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute and adjunct faculty member of George Washington University and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Previously, she was a research fellow at London School of Economics and Political Science, Middle East Centre, and from 2009 to 2014, an assistant professor of political science at American University of Sharjah (United Arab Emirates). Young has also worked at New York University. With her research and publications focusing on the political economies of Gulf Arab states, she’s the author of The Political Economy of Energy, Finance and Security in the United Arab Emirates: Between the Majilis and the Market. 


The article can be viewed in full here