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As the world has moved forward for better or worse, things either change, evolve, or become obsolete and fade away; governance practices are no exception, and this realization explains the success of soft power strategies in Saudi Arabia.
Soft power has proven to be a more long-lasting solution, being more tactful, tasteful, and in the end beneficial to all involved. The Saudis have developed soft power strategies that hinge upon mutually beneficial concepts that will target its society, its economy, and the nation as a whole thus building up from within and causing expansions in a variety of strategic sectors, all with the goal of a more productive, secure, and fruitful future for all Saudis- with the ambitious date of 2030 as a deadline.
Sectors such as entertainment, healthcare, tourism, housing, technology, industry, and infrastructure are among those that are being incorporated into the fold, all of which will benefit citizens, but there will be an external impact as well.
With the flow of positive moves made by our leadership come influence and favor that other strategies can’t provide, and as one would suppose, such is the strength of soft power: far-reaching persuasive benefits.
The Vision 2030 Program launched back in 2016 across 24 governing bodies and has brought some significant results to the table, , resulting in the most visible changes being found in the entertainment sector. For example, the General Authority of Entertainment was developed via royal decree in mid-2016 by HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, injecting over $2 billion into the industry.
Since then, new theatres have gone up, new stadiums are in the pipe to be erected in Riyadh, Qiddiya, and Dammam to host the 2027 Asian Cup, WWE pay-per-view wrestling events have continued to showcase in Saudi Arabia throughout the years, and the doors have since been opened for large music festivals, that were otherwise closed before 2016.
Among the most impactful changes that have been taking place in increments is the movement for women’s rights, which has shown demonstrable progress since the implementation of Vision 2030.
Schools providing physical education for boys and girls, the ability to attend sporting events within and without a stadium, the legal privilege to drive, the lifting of travel restrictions, and other efforts involving gender equality have all taken place since the program has taken into effect. Being a more modern society has its perks but will always have its share of challenges, but what worthwhile endeavor doesn’t?
Overall, the efforts being made by the Kingdom are making the country more attractive to people around the world; a more desirable destination for travel, home to new industries, and a more positive reputation amongst citizens of other countries- which, coincidentally, is one of many desired effects of soft power.