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Let Them Eat Cake (and surf, and swim, and play golf): Is King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), Saudi Arabia a Liberal Oasis?

Recent research delved into the economic challenges facing King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Saudi Arabia, revealing a nuanced perspective. While the outlook for KAEC's economy appears pessimistic, there's a glimmer of social optimism regarding the appeal of social liberalism, particularly among the youth. This emerging trend has garnered attention from Western media and scholars. KAEC, alongside other planned cities like NEOM, is positioned as a response to population growth and urbanization while aiming to stimulate economic growth. However, official Saudi government sources lack substantial mention of social liberalism, prompting questions about its authenticity versus being a marketing ploy. Is this dual message reflective of Saudi trying to push the social liberalism signal overseas while maintaining a conservative rhetoric at home? Is there a social cherry on the slightly stale economic cake?
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