A New York Times journalist recently visited Saudi Arabia and saw the rapid transformations, which happened during a short period of time. Saudi women are driving cars after being banned for decades and are working freely in new fields of business.
There are massive projects and investments that aim to achieve radical change in the economy away from oil. The voice of extremists has now disappeared, after being, only a short while ago, loud and creating consecutive crises that contributed to dividing the society. In brief, the Saudi society is living a new phase, and optimism fills the air.
It’s according to these notes that the journalist wrote his piece with the headline “The Prince Who Would Remake the World.” Saudi Arabia has a huge soft power on millions of Muslims and Arabs. Its transformation into a country with a modern economy that exports tolerance and openness will have a huge impact.
Extremists and terrorists do not only come out of the cloak of extremist organizations and groups but also of governments, like the case is with Doha which has turned into a landfill for extremists and a bank for Sunni and Shiite terror groupsMamdouh AlMuhaini
Saudi Arabia: Change beyond borders
Success is contagious. Many countries will be influenced by Saudi Arabia as a model and others will imitate it. The culture of religious tolerance will gain unprecedented momentum and legitimacy and will influence minds and hearts. The project of this cultural and modernist change will go beyond Saudi Arabia’s borders and contribute to changing the region, therefore the world; this is where the article’s title came from.
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We can in fact clearly notice the difference between the two worlds, before and after Mohammed bin Salman. Before Mohammed bin Salman, many were hopeless that hordes of extremists will ever go away. People hoped that oil wealth does not quickly deplete so we don’t get lost.
However, in the world after Mohammed bin Salman, we live in a totally different reality. There is a positive spirit that replaced despair and we can see with our own eyes how the extremists’ hateful rhetoric evaporated. After people worryingly observed the decline of oil prices, everyone began to hopefully look forward to the future specifically to 2030.
The mixture of enlightening intellect, moderation, development and modern economic ideas imposed by a brave and strong leadership are the only solution to the unfortunate region we live in. This reflects the Saudi Crown Prince’s will and supplies the world with optimism to get the region out of its deteriorating situation, which is due to many reasons and which is so bad, the region was dubbed the world’s ‘bad neighborhood’.
It’s the neighborhood where extremist grew up and from where terrorists graduated. It’s where obsessed murderers and mullahs rule. It suffers from governmental bureaucracy, and it’s a hotbed for the corrupt. Its traditional universities graduate students without teaching them any modern skills.
Its problem expanded and reached other countries due to some states’ failure and collapse and the increase of migration waves and emergence of terrorist groups that did not settle with carrying out bombings in Cairo and Baghdad but also carried out operations in London, Berlin and New York.
This neighborhood’s problem became the entire world’s problem especially with the absence of a successful model that’s capable of opening a gap in this thick wall and bring about substantial change and introducing it to the new world. There have been frequent rosy promises by leaderships to fight extremists and mercenaries, change the economy’s old machine and modernize education but they were not fulfilled and the opposite often happened.
The extremism war became a propagandist war whose aims are embellishment and marketing, and it ended with producing more fanatics. Eliminating corruption turned into a slogan where no action is taken and the quality of education fell towards the end of the list.
The pioneering Crown Prince
Due to all this, the change brought about by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Saudi Arabia in the past two years and his vision of his country’s future will certainly have positive influence due to Saudi Arabia’s status and financial and symbolic power over the entire region and the world.
We’ve seen how his actions precede words, without promises or long speeches. The discourse of war on extremism in Saudi Arabia is a frank discourse that only has one face and that aims to completely destroy extremist ideology.
When Prince Mohammed bin Salman said his famous sentence: “We will destroy extremist ideas today and immediately,” the government had begun suffocating the rhetoric of extremists and figures who support the Muslim Brotherhood and the Sahwa Movement and who seek to take back the country to the dark ages.
The opposite happened as the extremist rhetoric was buried and its godfathers disappeared from the scene. The rhetoric of tolerance and moderation flourished and the Saudi society restored its ordinary life prior to the invasion of extremist ideologies in 1979.
The fanatics’ dream was shattered not just in Saudi Arabia but also in other countries. This explains the continuous fierce campaigns which reflect the extent of bitterness and disappointment that the dark project, which saw Saudi Arabia as the biggest award, felt because it was defeated. This is also why Al-Qaeda and ISIS mainly target Saudi Arabia.
Extremists and terrorists do not only come out of the cloak of extremist organizations and groups but also of governments, like the case is with Doha which has turned into a landfill for extremists and a bank for Sunni and Shiite terror groups. It’s difficult to purge the region of this deadly disease without taking measures that prevent the Qatari government from funding terror groups and supporting extremists.
This is where the significance of the anti-terror quartet’s boycott of Qatar comes in, as it aims to turn the last page in the chapter of extremism and terrorism. It aims to enter a new era where the values of tolerance, co-existence, work and competition reign without fear of the emergence of terrorist groups that are funded by Qatari money to spread chaos and crimes like what happened before.
In the same context, we understand the strong and decisive confrontation against the Houthi group in Yemen and the different Iranian wings because they seek to destroy the international order, thus destabilize the region. As we can see in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, the victory of the Iranian model cancels any hope of a bright future for millions of people as extremist militias control their lives.
This dark destructive vision of the world clashes with Saudi Arabia’s new and bright vision for life and the future. This latter vision is our great hope to reshape the world again, but based on it this time.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms. He can be followed on Twitter @malmhuain.