Oct 25 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pushed through social and economic reforms as part of plans to modernise the conservative Muslim kingdom and attract foreign investment under a diversification drive.
The following are some of the major reforms implemented since his Vision 2030 agenda was announced in 2016:
* April 2016: Saudi Arabia curbs the powers of religious police that had patrolled public spaces to impose strict rules on women’s dress and enforce bans on alcohol, music, prayer-time closures and the mixing of men and women.
* December 2017: The government ends a 35-year prohibition on cinemas, plans to open more than 300 movie theatres by 2030.
* June 2018: Saudi Arabia lifts a decades-old ban on women driving cars. However, authorities arrested several women’s rights activists before and after the move amid a broader crackdown in which scores of critics have been arrested.
* January 2019: A royal decree allows music to be played in restaurants as public entertainment flourishes around the kingdom and the ban on gender-mixing eases.
* August 2019: Regulatory changes allow adult Saudi women to travel without permission and exercise more control over family matters, further eroding a heavily criticized male guardianship system but leaving parts of it intact.
* October 2019: A new tourist visa regime seeks to attract holidaymakers. A modest dress code is set for visitors, ending the requirement that women wear all-covering robes. Foreign men and women are permitted to rent hotel rooms together without proving they are related. Alcohol remains banned.
* Stock market reforms double ownership limits to 10% for foreign institutional investors.
* New labour regulations restrict certain jobs to citizens and raises quotas for companies to hire Saudis.
* Power and water subsidies are cut under fiscal reforms.
* The National Project Management Organization is set up to reduce costs on state infrastructure projects.
* Government launches the Citizen’s Account, a cash handout for low- and middle-income Saudis to offset austerity measures.
* Saudi Arabia detains scores of senior princes, ministers and top businessmen at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel in an anti-corruption campaign seen by critics as a power play and shakedown of the crown prince’s rivals. Authorities say they seized more than $100 billion through financial settlements.
* A 5% value-added tax (VAT) is imposed to improve non-oil revenue generation.
* Foreign investors are granted full access to NOMU, a parallel market for small- and medium-sized enterprises.
* New bankruptcy law regulates procedures such as settlements and liquidation.
* The Capital Market Authority and Debt Management Office reduce fees and commissions to encourage secondary market debt trading.
* Sin tax on electronic cigarettes and sugary drinks imposed in bid to diversify revenue streams.
* Saudi Arabia relaxes a 49% limit for foreign strategic investors in companies listed on the main Tadawul stock market.
* The capital market law is amended to allow the establishment of other exchanges alongside Tadawul.
* Saudi Arabia begins accepting licence applications in the military industrial sector, a major target for diversifying the economy away from oil.
Compiled by Tuqa Khalid; editing by David Clarke
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