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Wearing an Abaya is a Choice Says Saudi Crown Prince

Photo: Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman began his American tour with a wide-ranging interview with CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell on 60 Minutes. The 26-minute segment – his first interview with an American television network – was broadcast to about 10 million people, making it one of the most viewed features the program has published online.

In the interview, the 32-year-old Crown Prince touched on a number of domestic and political topics, including the anti-corruption crackdown, the ongoing war in Yemen, and the emancipation of women in the ultra-conservative Kingdom. He declared that women in Saudi Arabia no longer need to wear an abaya as long as their attire is “decent and respectful.”

The Crown Prince said, “The laws are very clear and stipulated in the laws of Sharia: that women wear decent, respectful clothing, like men.” He adds that this does not necessarily mean wearing a loose-fitting black robe or head scarf. “The decision is entirely left for women to decide what type of decent and respectful attire she chooses to wear.”

Ta Marbota Black and White Spring 2017 collection. Courtesy of Ta Marbota

Since the 32-year-old’s appointment as Crown Prince in June 2017, Bin Salman has been on a mission to reform the Kingdom’s economy and expand women’s rights. During his nine months in the role, the Crown Prince has reintroduced public cinemas, allowed women to enter sports stadiums, and lifted the long-standing ban on female drivers. “We are all human beings and there is no difference,” he states. Towards the end of the interview, O’Donnell asks if anything can stop him, to which he promptly replies, “Only death.”

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