This is an absolute monarchy. Its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was appointed by his father, King Salman, two years ago. And since then, the nation has gone through what one CNN reporter describes a top to bottom overhaul.
We reported in late September how the government had decided to allow women to drive. Saudi Arabia was the last nation on earth where that was illegal, but it`s also what experts call one of the most religiously conservative Islamic countries, and there were some Saudis who disagreed with the decision.
Crown Prince bin Salman has promised to destroy what he called extremist ideologies and work to return Saudi Arabia to a, quote, more moderate Islam. He`s trying to reshape Saudi Arabia`s economy, reducing its dependence on oil sales.
The nation is leading in international group to fight terrorism. It`s executed dozens of people on terrorism charges. It`s playing a major role in the civil war of neighboring Yemen, with Saudi Arabia leading international airstrikes, targeting rebels who were supported by Iran and trying to take control of Yemen.
And over the weekend, more than 17 Saudi princes and top government officials were arrested on corruption charges. This includes people who`ve been described as some of the wealthiest figures in the Arab world.
Regarding all of this, experts and observers have been using words like shocking, historic and even revolutionary. And globally, Saudi Arabia`s changes have been met with criticism, as well as praise, and caution, as well as trust.