An important talk in a substantial matter, this is how one can describe the talk of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the architect of the new Saudi vision and the supervisor over its execution.
In the interview with the brilliant presenter Abdullah al-Mudaifer, which was broadcasted on Saudi TV channels and many others, the crown prince revealed the fruits yielded from Vision 2030 and its future path. Not just that, Mohammed bin Salman also announced to the public that there would be a second chapter of the vision as once Vision 2030 is accomplished; Vision 20-40 will begin.
The young crown prince discussed administrational, developmental and economic renovation in the kingdom, as well as recreating the private sector economy in a new and vital shape to make it a main contributor to the overall Saudi economy. The prince had great explanations and answers for all our questions about the Vision, from tourism and housing, to environment, sport and the pursuit to attract foreign investors.
One of the most crucial parts in the interview, and what we must pay close attention to, is when the crown prince drew the features of the Saudi identity, or rather, removed the dust from its features, the same dust that some people tried to cover the Saudi identity with so that it petrifies and conceals our true identity.
Who are we? What is our identity? How can we understand Sharia? What is the role of religious scholars? What school are we following? Is it the school of Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab? What about the Quran, the hadiths and the sources of legislation? Why are we fighting the speech of politicalized religious extremism? Who represents this speech in the Kingdom? What does the future look for combating extremism and extremists? Are we becoming soft and weak?
In his unique style characterized by honesty and straightforwardness, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman answered firmly and unequivocally. He stated that Saudi Arabia was not like any other Muslim or Arab country. This is not a boast or compliment as it comes from tangible facts everyone has no choice but to admit them, whether they were pro-Saudi, anti-Saudi, or simply neutral in this regard. The crown prince continued that the Kingdom was the cradle of Islam, the origin of Arabs, the protector of the Arab identity, and the homeland of the Prophet. His Highness did not stop there, saying that Saudi Arabia was one of the G20 countries, the scale for energy and petrol, and the guardian of peace and stability since the day it was established at the hands of the great King Abdulaziz in 1930s.
The Saudi crown prince drew people’s attention when he said, “If I were Osama bin Laden and I wanted to spread my extremist thoughts throughout the world, especially amongst Muslims, where would I start?” the answer is Saudi Arabia off course. Why? For all the reasons mentioned above.
Just like Osama bin Laden, the Kingdom is being targeted by other individuals with the purpose of fulfilling their agendas, such as Khomeini and his followers and pupils, from Hassan Nasrallah and Abdul-Malik al-Houthi to Khomeinist militias in Iraq, as well as ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood.
How can we find a way out of this cycle of chaos and destruction? The answer is: a clear and forward path like the one Mohammed bin Salman is drawing in this magnificent speech.
Who are we? What is our identity? How do we understand Sharia? What is extremism? What is our relationship with other Islamic schools? We will attempt to examine these questions in future articles.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.