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Saudi Ambassador to US clarifies policy, tackles media issues

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

In his important interview with the Washington Post, the new Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Khalid bin Salman, outlined the features of Saudi international policy.

There is always a controversial image of Saudi politics in Western media because of the stereotypical representation of the desert, the exotic, the wealth, and women locked in tents. It is an image that has been designed since ancient times in the western imagination about the Arabian Peninsula, and it is has been perpetuated in novels, films and paintings.

But there is another aspect of this stereotypical representation, it is no longer a portrayal of innocence and traditionalism, but an image fueled by the agents of Khomeini, the leftist camp or the new Muslim Brotherhood activists from the second and third generation of Muslim Brotherhood immigrants.

Courage and wisdom

What is important to remember is that this is the fate of Saudi Arabia, and it must confront it with courage and wisdom. More importantly, this war needs to be fought through proof and evidence because it is initially a media war.

There are often repeated questions asked to any Saudi official in the Western and international press in general: women, specifically the issue of women’s right to drive a car, dealing with Shiites, Wahhabism and the September 11 attacks. In addition, there are new questions like the Yemen war, the Qatar problem ... etc.

Ambassador Khalid bin Salman answered wisely and firmly to both sets of questions - the old and the new. He asserted that while it is true that two Saudis were involved in the September 11 attacks, the same group that attacked the New York Twin Towers attacked the streets and people of Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Abha and Khobar. In brief, they are our enemies just as they are yours.

Mashari Althaydi



Ambassador Khalid bin Salman answered wisely and firmly to both sets of questions - the old and the new. He asserted that while it is true that two Saudis were involved in the September 11 attacks, the same group that attacked the New York Twin Towers attacked the streets and people of Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Abha and Khobar. In brief, they are our enemies just as they are yours.

Improving openness

The issues of openness, women, and the development of the judicial system and the suppression of extremism are improving in particular in the last two years. Anyone who visits the malls of Riyadh and Jeddah will realize the great difference that has occurred. For women, their legal and juridical status have witnessed great development, the latest in terms of custody rights and legal capacity, and there is much more to be done, including the issue of women driving a car that has sparked controversy and has become a media cause for Saudi enemies, including Iran, the world’s leading country in women’s rights!

However, the most important thing to take from this interview is Saudi Arabia’s vital role in leading the Islamic war against the terrorists and their supporters from parties and “states.” Here, the Saudi ambassador observed: “Yes, There are people and groups that support extremism in Saudi Arabia, but the state is fighting them. Yet, there are countries which support and finance media, politicians, armed extremist groups and non-armed with money such as Qatar, for example!

Such an interview with a prominent Saudi figure in this circumstances and from an international platform as the ‘Washington Post’ is vital for the Saudi Arabian voice.

Naturally, this step ought to contribute to others and become the foundations of an institution that speaks on behalf of Saudi Arabia.

This article is also available in Arabic.

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Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.