Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia was not covered by US
President Donald Trump's entry ban at the beginning of the
year. But in March, an electronics ban was introduced, which
prohibited passengers from having larger electronic items in
the cabin during flights to the United States. This ban
affected eight countries: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United
Arab Emirates, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Turkey and Yemen.
The United Kingdom also introduced a similar decision, which
also included Saudi Arabia.
Countryaah.com, sharp criticism was directed at Sweden, and other
countries, which in April voted Saudi Arabia into the UN
Women's Commission (CSW). As the vote was closed, what
Sweden had voted for was not made public. Later, however,
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that no country
voted no to Saudi Arabia. Of 54 member states, 47 voted yes,
while seven countries abstained. Many critics argued that
the Saudi women's view is incompatible with CSW's work.
However, something crucial happened in September when the
very symbol of Saudi women's oppression was removed: From
June 2018 it will be allowed for Saudi women to drive a car,
and in December it was announced that women will also be
allowed to drive a motorcycle and truck. In the same month,
the country also abandoned the ban on public cinemas.
In March, Saudi Crown Prince (and Defense Minister)
Mohammed bin Salman visited the United States and President
Donald Trump. In May, US President Donald Trump made his
first trip abroad. As the first country he visited Saudi
Arabia for two days, including for official talks with King
Salman. A $ 110 billion arms deal was signed, as was a deal
with General Electric and Boeing, among others.
Due to the fall in oil prices, the country is drawn with
large budget deficits. Therefore, in April, it was decided
to impose high taxes on tobacco and soft drinks in the near
future - the tobacco VAT will be 100% while the soft drink
VAT will be at 50%. This will bring the state up to the
equivalent of SEK 25 billion.
Saudi Arabia's relationship with Egypt was anything but
good because of an Egyptian court stopping a transfer of two
islands to Saudi Arabia. An oil supply to Egypt was not
punished. In April, it turned around when Egypt's President
Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi met with King Salman in Saudi Arabia
and talked about "the strong and brotherly relations and
cooperation between the countries".
In June, Saudi Arabia, along with a number of other
neighboring countries, broke off diplomatic relations with
Qatar due to suspicions that it supported terrorism. The
Qatar-based TV station al-Jazira's editorial board in Saudi
Arabia was also closed.
In August, the Saudi-led military alliance allowed
supplies of fuel to two UN planes transporting supplies from
Aden to the starving in the Yemeni capital Sana, controlled
by the Huhirebels. Aden is controlled by the Saudi-backed
In early November, eleven princes and a dozen former
ministers were arrested on the orders of Crown Prince Salman
through a newly formed anti-corruption committee, suspected
of corruption. In connection with this, a "palace coup" was
initiated by the Crown Prince to strengthen power. Among
other things, he allowed his most difficult competitor to be
deposed to the throne, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, from the
post of Minister and Chief of the National Guard. A few
weeks later, the arrested princes and ministers were offered
the opportunity to buy themselves free at a cost of up to
70% of their private assets. In December, three princes had
been released, but it is unclear if or how much they paid in
ransom. In October, Crown Prince Salman had been interviewed
by American CNN, promising a modernization of the country
with a "moderate" and "open" Islam.
In December, it was revealed that Leonardo da Vinci's
painting "Salvator mundi", which was sold at Christie's
auction in November and with its 450 million US dollars,
became the world's most expensive painting, purchased by
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.