MIDDLE EAST

The prince’s interview with the Post

In the world of American journalism there are the two media giants — The New York Times and The Washington Post — which cannot be ignored.

The former is a heavyweight known for its various press releases, but the latter is widely read and has entered into history books for exposing the Watergate scandal of former US President Richard M. Nixon, which led to his downfall and thus exit from the presidency. The scandal was exposed by editor in chief Ben Bradley and journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, both were extraordinary superstars.

The New York Times is generally known as the “voice” of the US State Department whereas The Washington Post is defined as the “voice” of the US Department of Defense.

Opinion pages are far more important than news pages. In the New York Times, the star of the opinion page is the well-known writer Thomas Friedman. In the Washington Post, there is David Ignatius, who is no less important than Friedman. His articles and columns are very important and he has also written books and novels some of which are classified among the best sellers in the United States.

I have had old relationship with both the writers and I have a good friendship with David Ignatius. I participated with him in the blog in The Washington Post after I was chosen as the only Arab writer (I write this as a kind of disclosure so that I can be objective in what I will say next).

There is a very serious desire for change in Saudi Arabia, as the deputy crown prince defined in his interview. An unprecedented ambition, a unique roadmap for ambitious goals, a strong approach and decisions are “required” even if they are painful and “not populist”

Hussein Shobokshi

Mohammed bin Salman interview

I am very pleased with the interview conducted by David Ignatius with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, the spirit of the interview and being able to obtain unprecedented comments and statements from the prince presenting the new direction of Saudi Arabia.

I am not exaggerating here in saying that the dialogue with the prince was very explicit, daring and most important in analyzing and describing the direction Saudi Arabia is heading toward.

It is obvious that the prince’s address was for people inside the country and for people around the world as well. The inside is represented by a young generation which constitutes more than 60 percent of the population of the country and the message for other parts of the world was to reassure the international community that Saudi Arabia is determined to be an integral member of the human society and not another North Korea, which is living on its own planet and isolated from the world under its slender slogans.

The prince explained that Saudi Arabia is on the verge of confronting and fighting elements of extremism and intolerance and opening up to the cultures and civilizations of the world in all of its forms, as well as opening up to new economic opportunities in all of its forms.

He was candid about the challenges, which are being faced in the areas of housing and unemployment. An important fact to note here is that 77 percent of those surveyed supported the government’s Vision 2030.

Desire for change

In his remarkable interview about Saudi Arabia, the prince stressed, “We don’t want to waste our lives in this whirlpool that we were in the past 30 years. We want to end this epoch now. We want, as the Saudi people, to enjoy the coming days, and concentrate on developing our society and developing ourselves as individuals and families, while retaining our religion and customs. We will continue to be in the post-79 era, that age is over.”

There is a very serious desire for change in Saudi Arabia, as the deputy crown prince defined in his interview. An unprecedented ambition, a unique roadmap for ambitious goals, a strong approach and decisions are “required” even if they are painful and “not populist”. There is a big difference between the two approaches.

No doubt, I received phone calls from the Western media asking about my reactions to the deputy crown prince’s interview with The Washington Post and the seriousness of what he said. I told them to come to Saudi Arabia and see for themselves the signs and significance of what the man said.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on April 24, 2017.
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(Hussein Shobokshi is a Businessman and prominent columnist. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al Takreer on Al Arabiya, and in 1995, he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his B.A. in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa. His twitter handle is @husseinshoboksh.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 3 May 2017 KSA 13:57 - GMT 10:57
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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