Bloomberg’s interview with Prince Mohammed bin Salman drew the path that Saudi Arabia has chosen for itself at the political, defense, developmental and social levels.
The vision is crystal clear; Saudi Arabia is taking a leap in time. The slow pace of progress is no longer in place. It is time for huge projects and giant strides, enlightened explanations of religion and Sharia, detailed studies to enhance the quality of life and the gradual phasing out of oil through parallel projects. All these issues were addressed in this important interview. If there is a phrase to sum up the entire interview, it would be, time is passing by and there is no option to waste it on historical stereotypes.
It is a different era and a different kind of proposal from a brilliant political figure. Any Saudi, amid this chaos and the increasing number of the failed and collapsed states, can brag that what he is really concerned with is developmentFahad Suleiman Shoqiran
Prince Mohammed talked about laws related to guardianship of women and said: “Well if we look at the 70s, it’s different from now. The rules of guardianship were held in 1979, if I’m not mistaken, and now we’re looking at the laws that were put in after 1979 and we’re talking to most of the Council of Senior Scholars to see what’s Islamic and what’s non Islamic in that area, and I believe there’s opportunity in that area.”
It is well-known that in cases of controversy, the opinion of the ruler ends the disputed matter, and his ruling in favor of a jurisprudential opinion becomes similar to a law. This was explained thoroughly by al-Qarafi in his book ‘Al-Furuq’ (Differences), by Al-Mawardi in his book ‘Al-Ahkam al-Sultania’ (The Ordinances of Government), by Ibn Taymiyyah in his book ‘al-Fatawa’ and many other jurists.
Therefore, achieving the interest of the people is an administrative necessity, and this is diagnosed by the ruler to push forward a view that achieves worldly goals for the people, even if it opposes other doctrinal opinions that are supported by people or by the majority.
The social aspect of Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s interview shows the exceptional awareness of the requirements in this fast changing era. The world is moving fast, and without keeping up with its huge developments, we would remain stuck between ages.
The crown prince said: “We will try to do our best and I believe we have a good plan to reach that without moving from Saudi based laws and religion. The Islamic religion. We believe the Islamic religion is the model and we believe extremists are trying to move it to the wrong side, but I believe we have achieved a lot in the past year compared to what’s been achieved in the previous 30 years. If you look at that speed, you’ll know it’s only a matter of time.”
Saudi Arabia has been taking slow steps for a long time, and it has done so for political considerations of the society due to its traditions. But now the society is witnessing major changes. There are a large percentage of students abroad and students with advanced degrees. Such factors make the politicians more capable of brave modernization, which is represented in the Prince’s vision of Saudi Arabia for the coming years.
Although this plan works like a miracle, he is capable of achieving it. We hear daily in the chatter on different media platforms about those who desire Saudi Arabia to fail in this plan, especially those who claim that they stand for patriotic causes when in fact they belong to a category of an old and extinct movement. It’s hence necessary to take care of our national issues, believing in the courageous, persistent and realistic vision of the Crown Prince.
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The Prince also voiced the necessity of expediting the fulfillment of these missions: “Our target in Saudi Arabia is to be competitive. So for example, I have a foundation, I’ve been trying for the past month to hire a new CEO, a non-Saudi CEO. I can’t. Because they don’t want to live in Saudi Arabia. That’s a problem.
Why? Because the quality of life and the lifestyle is not good. They want to work one week in Dubai and one week in Saudi Arabia. Come on, what’s happening? So we have to reach the best standard as soon as possible to be sure that people can work in this country and can proceed and build things in this country.”
It is a different era and a different kind of proposal from a brilliant political figure. Any Saudi, amid this chaos and the increasing number of the failed and collapsed states, can brag that what he is really concerned with is development and how to benefit from the wealth which God has bestowed on the country and its people.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Fahad Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Alarabiya.net, among others. He also blogs on philosophies, cultures and arts. He tweets @shoqiran.