Islam has shaped the history and character of Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the sixth century A.D. The advent of oil in the Saudi scene has been of primary importance to the country in the past century. Oil revenues have been used to develop a vast network of infrastructure across the wide desert. However, challenges still remain as Saudi Arabia carefully treads the twenty-first century. The most poignant of them all is the status of Muslim women in this developing nation. Although significant efforts were made by the government to integrate women in development notwithstanding the strong and persistent pressure exercised by religious leaders, a lot of ambiguity about women's paradoxical situation still remains. The reasons are complex but the first major one is that the debate on women's role in society is taking place within the framework of the ‘Arab Islamic heritage.’ The dilemma on the status of women in Saudi Arabia will take a long time to resolve, since it is caught up in the larger debate on the role of religion and cultural traditions in society. Since Islam is the defining factor for the Saudi nation, tradition must be either cast aside or reinterpreted.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 19, 2004
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