Thousands of young women cheered and rose in a standing ovation at the first public concert performed by a female singer in Saudi Arabia.
Some took off their abayas — the loose-fitting, full-length robes local women are required to wear in public — allowing their hair to hang loose.
Others danced to renditions of Whitney Houston and Celine Dion tunes as well as Arab classics. Many of the well-heeled young women held up their smartphones to film the spectacle.
“This is a very proud moment for Saudi Arabia,” the master of ceremonies said while welcoming Lebanese singer Hiba Tawaji to the stage. “All women should express their appreciation for a fact that a woman for the first time is performing at a concert in Saudi Arabia.”
Wednesday’s event is the latest example of how Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reforms are changing life for Saudis.
The 31-year-old has been trying to shake up the ultra-conservative society as well as diversifying its economy, which is heavily reliant on fossil fuels.
No public concerts have traditionally been allowed to take place in the kingdom, with many Saudis traveling to other Gulf States to see musicians perform live.
In recent weeks the government has also allowed several public concerts to be held, including mixed-sex gigs featuring Greek composer and keyboardist Yanni.
See Full Article by Lubna Hussain and Saphora Smith on NBC News, December 7, 2016.