She was responding to a news article, but now a Saudi Arabian royal has started a heated online debate about living in the ultra-conservation kingdom as a woman.

Princess – and entrepreneur – Reema Bandar Al-Saud tweeted a reply after reading a CNN story this week titled “The Saudi women afraid to go home”.

In the article, several women revealed to the US broadcaster their stories about fleeing their country of birth and its “restrictive” laws.

“What I really want is just to live normally without fear and not have to pretend to be somebody else, that’s all I ever want,” one woman, who was seeking asylum in the States, told CNN.

 

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However, Al-Saud suggested, the article did not address the lives of those who had remained, and their reasons behind that decision.

Her tweet sparked a social media campaign, where women using the hashtag #I_Choose_To_ Stay listed their reasons for not seeking other opportunities abroad.

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Many cited wanting to activate change in the kingdom, or a disinclination to abandon their homeland and their heritage.

While Al-Saud’s post attracted many similar responses, it also drew a wave of criticism, with many accusing her of being out of touch with the average Saudi woman.

“It’s very easy to tell other women when you can do what you want,” one wrote.

“It is not a choice when you cannot leave, so tell me how many of you can do that without causing trouble with her family?” another asked.

However change could be afoot…

saudi arabia woman man

The conservative nation looks set to undergo several reforms as part of Vision 2030, its post-oil economy plans.

Currently, women aren’t allowed to drive a car (clerics claim it “undermines social values”); interact with men; try clothes while shopping or compete freely in sports, however this could change.

Indeed, some changes have already been made in the field of women’s rights, with a ban on women voting or taking part in elections lifted in 2015, and in 2016 the strict religious police were stripped of their power to stop, question, pursue or arrest people.

The hope is to make the region a more modern, tourist-friendly destination by 2030, and subsequently there have been several calls from prominent figures to lift the controversial driving ban.

There have also been requests to lift strict labour laws, along with a landmark petition asking the government to do away with the male guardianship law.

The government also have plans to increase the percentage of women in the nation’s workforce from 23 per cent to 28 per cent by 2020.

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