The terrorist attacks of September 11th changed America forever, but Robert Lacey argues they had a big impact on Saudi Arabia too, by emboldening reformers to push back against religious extremists.
The Saudi reaction on September 11, 2001 was sympathetic and condemned the attacks as being “in conflict with our religious and civilized values.” The United States would discover quickly, however, that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens. This article says that crown prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz studied the attacks of that day, to learn from it, and has implemented changes since then. Since 9/11, Abdullah has implemented reforms in the Islamic nation, which have been slow going and leave much to be desired for an oppressive country, but are reforms none the less.
For example, soon after 9/11 the Saudi interior ministry began to issue identity cards for Saudi women for the first time, making it enormously easier for women to conduct financial and legal transactions. (Prior, women were simply registered under their father or husband) Can the events of 9/11 be seen as the motivation for a better educated society?