“It was not like this in the past… We will end extremism very soon” Saudi Arabian Prince’s Surprise Announcement

Saudi Arabia‘s crown prince, speaking at a major investment conference, has promised his kingdom will return to “what we were before – a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world”.




Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud made the announcement at the beginning of the landmark Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The country would also do more to tackle extremism, the prince said. “We will not waste 30 years of our lives dealing with extremist ideas, we will destroy them today,” he told an interviewer.

“It was not like this in the past… We will end extremism very soon”, the prince added, in his most direct criticism of Saudi Arabia’s conservative religious establishment to date.

Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, is governed under an puritanical form of Sunni Islam known as Wahabism; it is extremist versions of Wahabism that are espoused by jihadist movements such as Al Qaeda and Isis.

In the wake of 9/11, the Saudi authorities have worked alongside the US and other Western countries to tackle radicalisation and terrorism funding – but have often been criticised for not doing enough.

The claims from Prince bin Salman will be met with scepticism internationally, as Saudi’s hardline clerics still wield much power and influence in the country.  Rights groups continue to condemn the state’s human rights violations, the precedent for many of which is based on the Saudi interpretation of Quranic law.

Prince bin Salman, who was suddenly appointed heir to the throne by his father King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud earlier this year, is viewed by many as the face of the modern kingdom.

The 32-year-old is the driving force behind ‘Vision 2030’, Saudi Arabia’s long term economic and social policy designed to wean itself off dependence on oil, and is popular for his reforms to the country’s ineffective state bureaucracy.

Last month, it was announced women in Saudi Arabia would be finally be given the right to drive, a symbolic move signalling changes to the institutionalised discrimination against women in the country.

The claims from Prince bin Salman will be met with scepticism internationally, as Saudi’s hardline clerics still wield much power and influence in the country.  Rights groups continue to condemn the state’s human rights violations, the precedent for many of which is based on the Saudi interpretation of Quranic law.

Prince bin Salman, who was suddenly appointed heir to the throne by his father King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud earlier this year, is viewed by many as the face of the modern kingdom.

The 32-year-old is the driving force behind ‘Vision 2030’, Saudi Arabia’s long term economic and social policy designed to wean itself off dependence on oil, and is popular for his reforms to the country’s ineffective state bureaucracy.

Last month, it was announced women in Saudi Arabia would be finally be given the right to drive, a symbolic move signalling changes to the institutionalised discrimination against women in the country.

Also at the Future Investment Initiative, Prince bin Salman announced the creation of Neom, a new $500 billion (£381 million) independent economic zone to be built on the border with Jordan and Egypt.

The 2025 project will operate using alternative energy and serve as a worldwide technology innovation hub, the prince said.

The conference, which runs until Thursday, is aimed at showing how Riyadh is opening itself up to the modern world and diversifying its revenue streams following a global plunge in oil prices.

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