Saudi Arabia’s bravery in confronting problems

Hassan Al Mustafa
Hassan Al Mustafa
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There is great significance in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the US that goes beyond the close political relations between Riyadh and Washington as well as the military and economic agreements. It relates to changes sweeping through Saudi Arabia, which have picked up pace since King Salman bin Abdulaziz became ruler in 2015.

Through his press interviews, speeches and political stances, Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been altering the stereotypical image of Saudi Arabia in the foreign media, which usually presents the country as medieval state that possesses a lot of wealth and exports terrorists around the world!

The modern response of Saudi Arabia, particularly when dealing with Western media is not based on hostility and rejection, but is based on the concept of dialogue and correcting the latter’s misconceptions.

Saudi Arabia is not ashamed of admitting its past mistakes and admits there have been hard-line voices promoting hatred and takfir. However the crown prince has stated clearly: “We will eliminate extremists now and immediately.” These “terrorists” would not have a place in the new Saudi Arabia, because it is a country that respects differences and diversity and renounces violence.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman was quite candid in his interview on CBS channel’s “60 minutes” program, in which he talked about how after 1979 “we were victims (of extremism), especially my generation.”

The victims — whom the Prince is referring to — are those who have been under the sway of Islamic sahwa and takfiri Salafism. Consequently, they were lured by militias like Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra front and ISIS which exploited their religious enthusiasm, as well as the conservative and strict way in which they were raised. It was thus easy to exploit them to promote a fundamentalist doctrine and carry out terrorist operations.

The new Saudi response in dealing with Western media is not based on hostility and rejection, but on dialogue and correcting the latter’s misconceptions

Hassan Al Mustafa

The importance of such a frank approach is that it rejects the premise of those who criticize Saudi Arabia thus making them incapable of attacking it like they used to do. The political leadership is now openly talking about the “the hard-line era” and criticizing it. Moreover, it is striving diligently to get out of that mindset, confront the issues of this era, and create a different environment based on civilized living, modernity and belief in individuals’ right to choose their way of life without constraints.

Saudi Arabia faces up to its problems bravely and does not feel ashamed about it. The solution to any problem starts by admitting it, thoroughly diagnosing it, knowing its causes and then uprooting or removing it effectively.

The power of the new rhetoric allows Saudi Arabia to forge non-traditional alliances and makes western public figures support Saudi politics and the ongoing change and reformation process as they began to see practical procedures and a modern language without justification or veneration that suggests a qualitative shift which will affect the entire Gulf and Middle East region.

This article is also available in Arabic.


Hassan AlMustafa is Saudi journalist with interest in middle east and Gulf politics. His writing focuses on social media, Arab youth affairs and Middle Eastern societal matters. His twitter handle is @halmustafa.

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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