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Female Saudi chauffeurs take to the roads of Riyadh

Female employees of Careem, a chauffeur car booking service, collect and deliver customers as they drive in the Saudi capital of Riyadh after the Dubai-based ride-hailing app, along with global behemoth Uber, reacted to Saudi King Salman’s September announcement of an end to the kingdom’s ban on female motorists by saying it would hire women in the conservative kingdom.

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This Saudi Film Critic Has Waited Decades For Movie Theaters To Be Legal Again

Saudi Arabia opened its first movie theater last week — ending a nearly 40-year ban on showing films in public. The global blockbuster Black Panther sold out in about a minute.

Welcoming Saudi crowds back to the movies is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to reform the ultraconservative kingdom — and create more revenue sources beyond oil.

And in a country where there aren’t a lot of things for young people to do…bin Salman sees a huge potential upside. One government body calculated that in 2017 alone, Saudis spent $30 billion on entertainment in the Middle East, but outside kingdom. That’s about 5 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

The plan is to funnel that kind of money back in to the country – and one way would be through entertainment. Over the next 10 years, the kingdom is planning to invest $64 billion in the entertainment industry and open up 300 movie theaters across the country.

VICE News caught a preview with Fahad al-Yahya, a psychiatrist and film critic in Riyadh who’s been waiting for this day for decades.

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Saudi crown prince meets Spanish king in Madrid

Saudi crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Spanish King Felipe VI in Madrid during an official visit, which coincides with talks to sell Spanish warships to the oil-rich kingdom. IMAGES

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Saudi crown prince arrives in Madrid for visit

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives in Madrid. He will meet Spain’s King Felipe VI as he continues a global diplomatic charm offensive. IMAGES

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Saudi crown prince heads to French PM residence

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s convoy left his Paris hotel, headed for France’s Prime Minister’s residence, as part of an image-building global tour as he seeks to revitalise cultural and investment ties with Paris despite lurking tensions. IMAGES

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How The U.S. Is Helping Saudi Arabia Fight A Controversial War In Yemen

The Senate rejected a resolution Tuesday seeking to end U.S. involvement in Yemen’s spiraling civil war, which has killed thousands of civilians and thrown the country into the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” according to the United Nations.

In a closer-than-expected result, lawmakers voted 55-44 against curbing U.S. military activity in Yemen, narrowly defeating the bipartisan legislation put forward by Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah. But human rights advocates were heartened by what they believe is a growing opposition to America’s unconditional support for Saudi Arabia’s controversial campaign in Yemen.

“Today should have been the day that the Senate moved to end U.S. involvement in this catastrophe.” said Scott Paul, Oxfam America’s policy lead for Yemen. “But it is clear from today’s debate that the tide is turning,”

Paul was likely referring to the timing of the vote, which, despite urgent requests from the White House and the Pentagon, took place just as Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman visited with President Donald Trump at the White House. Trump praised the young leader as a “very great friend” to America; hours later the Senate debated the bill.

Congressional leaders sought to use the Crown Prince’s much-touted visit to press the White House and its powerful Middle East ally to end the brutal war in Yemen, along with the U.S. military’s involvement in it. They did so while facing opposition from the executive branch and the military. Ahead of the visit, Secretary of Defense James Mattis penned a personal letter to U.S. senators, urging them to halt the vote, and warning that such an effort risked straining relations and compromising American interests in the region.

But there’s a reason the senators pressed forward with the vote. Bin Salman may be touted as Saudi Arabia’s young modernizing reformer, but he is also widely considered the architect of the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen, which has had disastrous results for the country and its civilians.

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Reactions after Saudi intercepts Yemen rebel missile over Riyadh

Riyadh residents react after Saudi Arabia said it intercepted a Yemeni rebel missile over the city, as the rebels said the target was Yamamah palace, the official residence of King Salman.

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Saudi Arabia agrees to buy Russia S-400 air defence systems

Saudi Arabia has signed a preliminary agreement to buy S-400 air defence systems from Russia during King Salman’s landmark visit to Moscow. IMAGES