Saudi Arabia: National Branding Transformation 
In the recent decades, the emergence and development of the concept of National Branding, as a result of globalization and digital revolution, has provided countries with an efficient tool to use in order to improve their national image and consequently promote trade, tourism and direct investment.
Among the nations that witnessed similar such transformations recently is Saudi Arabia, whereas the King Bin Salman unveiled Vision 2030 which has clear indication of National Branding.  The vision objectives are claimed to be in connection with the underlying transformation of the National Branding. The strategy is believed to create and bring crucial long-term benefits and opportunities for the country in the 21 st  century .
Question 1: What is the aim for National Branding?

Overview about National Branding
National Branding represents the tool through which an entity communicates and identifies itself in the citizen perception . It is crucial in order to attract inves tment, boost exports, attract tourists and talented workforce. Therefore; National Branding influences public diplomacy, cultural environment and economic benefits. 

Saudi Arabia National Branding
The Saudi government is signaling to its citizens and to the world the new national brand of the 21 st  century which includes many more possibilities than in previous centuries. As it is started with new decisions with regard to good governance and tax reforms, women rights and new opportunities for its people, as well as the continued efforts of the Saudi government to tackle international terrorism, have been positively received both domestically and internationally and have significantly contributed to the Saudi national brand image , indicating that more positive changes are on the horizon .
Question 2: What are the major developments that happened for women in Saudi Arabia?

  • In December 2015, the Saudi Cabinet approved a new law permitting the establishment of civil society organizations for the first time, and authorities published the implementations of these laws and regulations in 2016. The new regulations permit authorities to dissolve or deny registration to any nongovernmental organization on vague grounds, including contradicting Islamic Sharia, contradicting public morals and contradicting Human Rights.
  • Saudi Arabia discriminatory male guardianship system had remained intact despite government pledges to abolish it. Under that system, adult women must obtain permission from a male guardian - a husband, father, brother, or son - to perform certain actions such as traveling abroad.
  • Women regularly faced difficulties in conducting a range of transactions without a male relative, from renting an apartment to filing legal claims. In addition to banning the women from driving cars until the recent lift of that ban that occurred in 2017 and will be put into action mid 2018.
  • Saudi Arabia continues to discriminate against females by denying them the same opportunities to exercise and play sports as males. In July 2016, most public schools were not offering physical education for females. In addition, They did not allow them to participate in national tournaments or state-organized sports leagues
  • In 2018, Bin Salman unveiled Vision 2030, including ambitious strategies to advance the economy. The strategies include cutting the government subsidies, applying new taxes and borrowing billions to balance the budget.
  • A key goal of the Vision 2030 is increasing the engagement of women in the workforce particularly in finance and technology. Still, women are far more likely to be unemployed than men making up 63% which are still actively looking for jobs. The official unemployment rate in the kingdom is 11.6%.
  • King Salman has decided that it is time for women to start driving. He is targeting to have a more productive workforce and a more balanced system of social rights, as there are more than one million Saudi women in need for a safe means of transportation to commute to work as an alternative to relying on male guardians.
  • Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) in Riyadh started to accept the driving instructors applications. Females from all over the Kingdom come to the PNU, the largest university for women in the world, to pursue their studies. As such, it has established a driving academy on its campus that will provide theoretical education and practical training.
  • Women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to drive trucks as long as they comply with traffic regulations and will get licenses to ride motorcycles as per a Royal decree that was announced in September, which comes into effect in June 2018.
  • Restrictions on women are already being relaxed in Saudi Arabia's major cities. At a business conference in Riyadh earlier this month, men and women were allowed to sit in the same hall.
  • Veteran Lebanese soprano Majida El-Roumy has performed in a ladies-only concert in Riyadh on 28  of December 2017. The event was held at the Conference and Convention Center of Princess Nourahbint Abdulrahman University.
Question 3: What are the other entertainment facilities provided?

  • In 2018, Saudi Arabia Muslims' Destination initiative by Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage (SCTNH), Prince Sultan Bin Salman to grant tourist visas and extend Umrah packages. The aim is to serve pilgrims and visitors and achieve the Vision 2030 by increasing the number of pilgrims, enhancing private sector contribution to tourism, cooperating with the public sector to develop the infrastructure and highlight the historic heritage of the Kingdom.
  • The General Entertainment Authority (GEA) has launched a campaign for the mid-year school holiday under the theme "Don't think of traveling" providing 45 diverse events in 18 cities across the Kingdom running from 11th to 20th of January 2018. The Events on the entertainment calendar for the mid-year holiday include plays, edutainment events and concerts, particularly in major cities including Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.
  • The General Sports Authority will be set up to accommodate families in October 2018 in the stadiums of Jeddah, Dammam and Riyadh; as the Women will be in black abayas and fluorescent orange vests standing at the gates of King Abdullah Stadium, welcoming people into the family section that, for the first time in Saudi Arabia, allowed women to attend a men soccer match.
Question 4: What are the positive influences of these programs and initiatives?

Main Influences
  • Saudi new National Brand is believed to bring long-term sustainable benefits, to improve the whole country's image abroad and thus promote trade, tourism and direct investment.
  • The positive impact of these programs and initiatives can be seen in many aspects either the internal or external affairs of the state, ranging from state security, innovation and development to the improvement of citizens standard of living.
The growing importance of National Branding has become a crucial element for countries worldwide interested in expanding their economic, scientific and trading capabilities globally. Every state is  seeking to improve tourism, international trade and foreign investment, and enhance the availability of international credit. In general, it can benefit greatly from the  positive national reputation , and therefore  the state success is very much dependent on the success of the state's national brand. Thus; King Salman concept in applying the National Branding strategy to Saudi Arabia is based on the belief that it will bring considerable long-term benefits to Saudi citizens and the whole country state in the near future.
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