From the headlines you would imagine a huge leap forward in women's rights in Saudi Arabia - from the New York Times "Saudi Monarch Grants Women Right to Vote" or from the Guardian "Getting the vote could herald real change for Saudi women".
Really? Because as great as it is that Saudi Arabia has joined the rest of the world in allowing women to vote (except of course the Vatican City, as the last bastion of male exclucivity), those elections are not going to be worth a dime. In the last 50 years there has only been one election that anyone could vote in, and it was a local council election where the monarchy determined eligibility to stand for election and directly appointed half the members. So at some point in the future there will be another local council election with the result pre-ordained by the Monarch, but a few women will be allowed to vote for the remaining window dressing. Whoop-e-bloody-do.
It is hard to imagine this move as anything other than a (successfull) attempt to give the illusion of progress and democracy where none exist. The King of Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarch, who bloody cares who can "vote"? What is a vote without democracy! Progress would be the women of Saudi Arabia getting rights that they can actually use, such as the right to marry who they want and travel where they want. Anything else is just PR.