Saudi Arabia has been undergoing an unprecedented series of transformations under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030.
This era can easily be dubbed the kingdom's most groundbreaking to date as officials overhauled tens of laws, redefined goals, and focused on modernizing local cities. It's safe to say that some of the most incredible changes were made in 2019 and the past few months have certainly made this the kingdom's year of firsts.
From launching tourist visas for the first time in its history to hosting its first WWE women's wrestling match, here are a few things Saudi Arabia introduced this year:
1. The country launched e-visas for tourists
For decades, the kingdom had limited its visit visas to pilgrims, business people or women with local sponsors, and family members of people residing in Saudi Arabia.
This year, the country officially opened up to tourists for the first time in its history. The unrolling of tourist visas came as part of efforts to revitalize the local tourism sector which is expected to see significant growth which will ultimately contribute to the country's economy.
Back in September, officials announced that tourists from 49 countries can now apply for visas through Saudi embassies and consulates across the world. A few weeks later, the list was expanded to include nationals of additional countries on condition that they are holders of a "valid commercial or a tourist visa issued by the US, the UK or the European Union's Schengen visa."
2. Women obtained passports and traveled without a male guardian's approval
This year was another triumphant 12-month period of firsts for Saudi women who are winning their rights one after the other.
In August, a royal decree granted women who are over the age of 21 the right to travel outside the kingdom without the permission of a male guardian. The order also stated that they will be allowed to independently apply for passports; register a marriage, divorce or child's birth; and obtain official family documents.
Just weeks after the order was passed, it officially went into effect with over 1,000 Saudi women traveling abroad without needing male-consent for the first time in the country's history.
3. Saudi mothers were also granted their right to approve their kids' travel
Saudi mothers were given the right to apply for passports for children in their custody and approve travel abroad, something that was previously a male-exclusive privilege.
Divorced mothers with custody are now also issuing passports and travel permissions for their children.
4. Saudi women were appointed as public prosecutors
Women empowerment was at the center of changes made in the kingdom this year; it's fitting given that Saudi women's fight for equality has spanned decades.
In August, Saudi Arabia appointed 50 women as public prosecutor investigators for the first time in its history.
Their appointment comes at a time when hundreds of thousands of women are joining the country's workforce as more industries open up to them.
5. Riyadh became a central city for entertainment
Anyone who's ever lived in the kingdom knows that Jeddah was the country's hotspot for decades and long before Saudi Arabia established its Entertainment Authority.
But this year, the country's capital Riyadh stole the limelight and transformed into a major hub for everything tourism and entertainment.
The city has been hosting Riyadh Season since Oct. 11. The event was planned to end on Dec.15 but some of its sections have been extended until late Jan. 2020 due to its huge success among the kingdom's residents and tourists.
6. The kingdom hosted a "solo-stadium show"
In October, BTS, a famous South Korean boy band, became the first foreign artists to play a "solo stadium show" in Saudi Arabia. The band performed to a sold-out crowd at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh.
7. Female equestrians took part in the Souq Okaz Festival
This year, a group of top-notch female equestrians became the first to ever perform at the kingdom's Souq Okaz Festival.
The women hailed from different Arab countries including Saudi Arabia and took part in an event called "Forsan Okaz" (Knights of Okaz). They rode horses alongside men during a show that saw them break all the taboos previously related to women taking part in major public performances in the kingdom.
8. A Saudi college started offering music courses
Saudi Arabia's Taif University became the first local academic institution to offer music courses. The college announced that its Arab Poetry Academy opened submissions to an extra-curricular music and performance program.
The course offering made headlines and stirred up controversy among Saudis, many of whom are opposed to including music in curriculums because they deem it "haram" (unacceptable in Islam).
Up to the point when Taif University announced this move, all the country's academic institutions had long-excluded music from both their curricular and extra-curricular academic activities.
9. The country inaugurated an electric car charging station
The kingdom is walking right into the future and working on a plan that's set to introduce electric vehicles (EV) to the country in the next few years.
In August, Saudi Arabia marked a major milestone in the scheme after it installed its first commercial electric car charging station in Riyadh. The new charging station is located near the city's airport road, at a branch of one of the largest local chains of petrol stations, SASCO.
10. It also hosted a women's wrestling match
On Oct. 31, the kingdom proved it's serious about shedding its conservative skin once and for all by hosting it's first WWE women's wrestling match.
WWE superstars Natalya and Lacey Evans starred in the kingdom's historic match, which came as part of Riyadh Season's many events.
The game took place a year after Saudi Arabia's sports authority signed a 10-year deal with the entertainment brand, granting Saudis the opportunity to watch matches live in the kingdom.