The appointment last week of a woman to an important ministerial position raises questions as to whether King Abdullah is trying to make some dramatic shifts in the nature of his kingdom. The selection of Ms. Norah al-Fayez is an indication the King is disappointed with the religious police and hard liners who spend their time harassing young people for doing ordinary things like walk in a mall. Religious police have embarrassed Saudi authorities angry by chasing young people in the streets and forcing them into mosques for prayers, and they have grossly violated the rights of migrants whose work is vitally important to the nation.
The replacement of the conservative chief justice Salih al-Lihaidan was another sign of frustration on the part of Abdullah who wants to move his nation into the 21st century. A modern society can not simply ignore half of its citizens and hope to be productive. There is a new generation of Saudi leaders waiting to assume greater control for directing the nation. They know oil will not last forever and there is need to develop high tech components to the economy and educate youth for a global world.