Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has vowed to take his country to a “moderate Islam that is open to all religions.” He also pledged to “eradicate” radical Islamist ideology from the Gulf kingdom.
The 32-year-old said that they will eradicate the remnants of extremism very soon, and the country represents the moderate teachings and principles of Islam.
He also sought global support to transform the hardline kingdom into an open society that empowers citizens.
Prince Mohammed also said that the ultra-conservative state has not been normal for nearly three decades, attributing it to rigid doctrines that followed as a response to the Iranian revolution.
At a Future Investment Initiative (FII) summit in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, he also launched an ambitious $500bn (£381bn) independent economic zone straddling Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.
He emphasized that Saudia Arabia is a G20 country and a major world economy, and changing the country means changing the world and helping the religion.
Prince Mohammed also said that 70 per cent of the Saudis are below 30 years, and the country won’t waste the next 30 years in combating extremist thoughts.
The move is aimed to sideline the clerics and seek unquestioning loyalty from senior officials tasked to overhaul most aspects of life in Saudi Arabia.
Recently, the country made a landmark decision to allow women to legally drive vehicles starting in June 2018. However, the move has been opposed by conservatives but welcomes by rights activists. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive.