Since the Arab Spring began two years ago, the king has sped up the changes. He granted women the right to vote and run in the 2015 municipal elections -- the only such contest the kingdom holds -- allowed two women to compete in last year's London Olympics, a first for Saudi female athletes, and in January appointed the first female members to the Consultative Council, naming 30 women to the 150-member advisory body.
Before 2011, Abdullah opened the first coeducational university and named the first Saudi female deputy minister. The king has also created job opportunities for women in areas other than those they have traditionally held in academia, medicine and health.
Women can now work in lingerie and makeup stores, as supermarket cashiers and as quality managers at factories.
Women's universities have also expanded areas of study available to female students, adding law and architecture, for instance.
Eoin Treacy's view The reversion towards the mean we have
been highlighting for a number of months appears to be taking root in an increasing
number of indices and equity sectors. It is therefore notable that a number
of Middle Eastern markets are exhibiting relative strength in this environment.
Saudi Arabia continues to extend its rally from the 7000 area and a clear downward dynamic will be required to check momentum beyond a brief pause.
Qatar rallied to post a new 5-year high today, breaking out of a more than twenty-month range. Oman remains on a recovery trajectory and has held a progression of higher reaction lows since August.