Saudi Crown Prince pledges elimination of ‘what is left of extremism’ in near future

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 26 October 2017
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Saudi Crown Prince pledges elimination of ‘what is left of extremism’ in near future

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledged on Tuesday a return to a moderate past and looked forward to a technology-driven future.
“We are returning to what we were before — a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world,” he told the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in Riyadh.
“We will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with destructive ideas. We will destroy them today,” he added.
The crown prince addressed an audience of thousands of global investors and dignitaries who visited the Saudi capital to hear first-hand how the country’s society and economy are being transformed. He said: “Saudi Arabia was not like this before 1979. We want to go back to what we were, the moderate Islam that’s open to all religions. We want to live a normal life.”
The remarks set a new tone for a country that is undergoing unprecedented economic and social reforms as it reduces its reliance on oil revenues while creating thousands of new jobs for a youthful population.
They also spoke to the needs of a country where 70 percent of the population is under the age of 30, with millions of young Saudis set to enter the workforce in the next decade.
At the same time, the government is challenging long-established social norms by ending a ban on women driving and signaling a move to open up the entertainment sector.
Last week, the Kingdom’s Culture and Information Ministry said it planned to monitor interpretations of Islamic teachings used to justify violence or terrorism.
Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Riyadh-based Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar, welcomed the crown prince’s resolute stand against extremism and terrorism and said Saudi Arabia’s efforts in the last two years had begun to bear fruit.
“Saudi Arabia leads the anti-Daesh coalition as well as a sustained campaign against terror and its extremist ideology and the campaign has broken the back of terrorism,” he said.
He said Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed, has demonstrated through words and deeds its commitment to eradicating both extremism and terrorism.
“The creation last week by royal decree of the King Salman Complex for the Prophet’s Hadith in Madinah was one more step in preventing the extremists from misinterpreting the teachings of Islam and from committing crimes and murders in the name of Islam,” said Al-Shehri. “This is a very significant step.”
He described the crown prince as a “wise leader,” who warns his people on every occasion to get rid of all extremist thoughts.
“Saudi Arabia is a modern nation; Islam is a religion of moderation. Islam is not against modernization, and we have seen the step of allowing Saudi women to drive ... all these steps have restored Saudi Arabia’s standing as the leader of the moderate and proud Muslim world where there is no room for extremism,” he told Arab News.
Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia had played a notable role in the anti-Daesh campaign, both operationally in terms of military assets and ideologically to prevent recruitment and stop foreign fighters.
"The counter extremism center, Etidal, and the significant efforts made by Saudi Arabia in conjunction with allies to curb the illicit financial network of Daesh will ensure that this terror group never makes a comeback," he said.
He said the recent establishment of an authority to scrutinize uses of the “Hadith” — the sayings, actions, and habits of Prophet Muhammad used by preachers and jurists to support teachings and edicts on all aspects of life — would prevent the seeds of extremism from blossoming in the future.
"The question we must all ask ourselves is how the defeat on the battlefied of Daesh and other extremist groups can be sustained so that they never occur again. This is a bold move that will go a long way toward delegitimatizing and preventing extremist ideologies from appearing and spreading," he said.
He said the recent announcements and policy decisions made in Riyadh "will hopefully serve as an example of how change can be enacted for a new generation which will set an important precedent for the entire Arab world."
On Tuesday, the FII audience heard from the chief of the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) which is seeking further international partnerships as part of a plan to become the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world.
Managing Director Yasir Al-Rumayyan also on Tuesday revealed a $20 billion alliance with the US investment fund BlackRock.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde addressed the event and warned that the next decades would determine whether the world moved toward “utopia or dystopia.” She said that climate change and the rise of inequality were the most significant threats to the global outlook. “If we don’t address these issues … we will be moving to a dark future” in 50 years, she said.


Peace, security and economy top agenda of Saudi Shoura session

The current Shoura Council is composed of 150 members including 30 women members. (SPA)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Peace, security and economy top agenda of Saudi Shoura session

  • Al-Khunaizi said that King Salman’s speech will have “added political and economic significance, and it will lay out the agenda for the rest of the Shoura’s term”

RIYADH: King Salman on Monday will deliver his inaugural address at the Shoura Council, where he will talk about a range of local and regional issues and urge lawmakers to support the government in taking the country forward.
The king’s speech, which will serve as a guideline for Shoura members, will begin the deliberations of the new parliamentary year of the 150-member council.
“The king’s visit to the Shoura is of utmost importance, and his speech will define domestic, regional and foreign policies,” said Hoda Al-Helaissi, a member of the Shoura Council here on Wednesday.
“With the visit of King Salman to the Shoura Council to mark the beginning of the third year of the seventh term, we take a moment to reflect on the past year,” Al-Helaissi said.
She said that “the past year has been a year of challenges and opportunities both within the Kingdom and abroad.”
“Remarkably, as is in our nature, and as exemplified by our leadership, we have remained steadfast in our values and beliefs, committed as a country to the well-being of our citizens, not least as explained in what has now become known as Saudi Arabia’s road-map for the future, Vision 2030,” Al-Helaissi said.
“As the home of the Two Holy Mosques and as an important strategic player in the region, Saudi Arabia has an important role in global politics and we look forward to hearing the king’s speech this coming Monday,” Al-Helaissi said.
Guidelines for addressing local and regional challenges with a special reference to domestic and foreign policies will be spelled out by King Salman, she said.
“Elaborate preparations have been made to receive the king on this occasion,” said Mohammed Al-Khunaizi, another member of the Shoura Council. Al-Khunaizi said that King Salman’s speech will have “added political and economic significance, and it will lay out the agenda for the rest of the Shoura’s term.”
“The occasion marks the beginning of the new year for the council,” said Al-Khunaizi, while forecasting a number of proposals, decisions, draft legislation, treaties and foreign policy matters to be discussed and debated in 2019.
He said that the king’s speech may touch on subjects such as society, security, peace, stability, extremism, economy, financial reforms, regional challenges and foreign policy matters.
Al-Khunaizi noted that the role of women members of the Shoura Council had lent new dimension to the debate and deliberations of the council. He said that the current Shoura Council is composed of 150 members including 30 women members.