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Why Business as Usual May Soon Change in Saudi Arabia

Apr 29, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
More than three-quarters of Saudis live in the kingdom's big cities, like the capital, Riyadh, where jobs and other opportunities are rich.

The skyline of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 28, 2014, is seen at night in this aerial photograph from a helicopter.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

As their country moves away from its economic model based largely on hydrocarbon production, Saudis hungry for economic and social opportunity find themselves drawn to the kingdom's central cities. But even those who get the education necessary to compete for better jobs and take lifestyle risks in pursuit of a slice of the new Saudi dream by moving to the big cities don't always find success. That has only sharpened the division between the haves in Saudi Arabia's core regions and the have nots in its outlying provinces. But even within the economically more vibrant big cities, Saudis are discovering a financially frustrating life ahead of them. The strains being placed on the Saudi social fabric by its opportunity gaps will make it increasingly more difficult for the kingdom to enact its economic reforms, and likely will help goad Saudi Arabia to change the way development is handled in the country....

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