This year brought about significant changes to our region of the world. From leaders stepping down to strict Islamic laws being lifted off of women, 2019 brought its fair share of developments.
Here are our top five events in the Middle East this year:
1. After months of peaceful protests Sudan’s president was ousted after 30 years in dictator-like power.
Last December 2018, citizens marched in protests and price jumps in bread and fuel, two basic necessities. These protests quickly changed to a call for Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir to step down.
The MENA Collective partners with multiple churches in Sudan and we earnestly prayed for their wellbeing. Yet we soon received word that not only were the churches open, but church members and leaders were ministering to protestors handing out food and water, opening their doors to those in need of rest after marching, and sharing the Gospel with those waiting in day-long lines for gasoline.
On April 11, 2019, Al-Bashir stepped down as president and the military took over. All through the summer months citizens continued protesting asking for equal representation through a democratic, civilian appointed administration. On August 4, 2019, the military and civilian committee signed a power-sharing document. The document states the two sides will work together for the next three years to form a cohesive government.
2. This year was monumental in the number of reforms made by Crown Prince Salman of Saudi Arabia.
Just a year ago women first received the rights to drive in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And today, they can now travel and apply for passports independently, a right previously withheld. Women are also now allowed to obtain family documents from the government and are required to receive equal treatment in the workplace.
These reforms are unlikely to produce an immediate change for Saudi women, but it is paving the way for equal treatment.
Saudi Arabia also has opened its doors to international tourists for the first time in its history. Previously only those with business or government-work visas or those traveling as religious Muslim pilgrims to Meca were permitted entrance into the nation.