Saudi Arabia's changing Norms: Diverse Perspectives

Clock Icon Jul 6, 2023
Music is one of the biggest sectors where the transformation of Saudi society is reflected. (Source: @loulwa_music/Instagram)

Music is one of the biggest sectors where the transformation of Saudi society is reflected. (Source: @loulwa_music/Instagram)

Many people frequently inquire about the impact of the various changes that have been unfolding in Saudi Arabia over the past few years. These changes have a profound effect, influencing every aspect of life. The scope of these changes is vast. However, it’s worth noting that perceptions of these transformations differ, particularly between native Saudis and outsiders.

Younger generations, those aged 17 and above, are experiencing a lifestyle that feels entirely normal to them. For someone like myself, who grew up in the 1980s, and for the generations coming before, these changes bring a sense of normality and simplicity, a lack of complexity, to which we are unaccustomed.

Just last week, my husband and I attended a music event, with a band playing and a mixed audience, some women with and some without abayas. In that moment, I took a look around and reminisced about the days when females couldn’t even enter a music shop to purchase a cassette, and when the first question customs officials would ask was, “Do you have anything from Michael?”—referring to the prohibited music of Michael Jackson.

Artists like Loulwa Al-Sharif, a Saudi jazz singer, who seize opportunities and create something meaningful, are a joy to witness. While their success might seem normal and natural, to us it’s a novelty. Every opportunity that encapsulates the beauty of life, expressed in a straightforward, uncomplicated way, is now accessible to Saudis. A feeling of normality and simplicity that was unimaginable before. This represents progress we cherish daily, for we remember how things were in the past. 

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