The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman has been really making remarkable reformations to the conservative laws and equality among genders.
Mohammed bin Salman is due to be king of Saudi Arabia. The famous figure is charting a new, more modern course for a country so conservative that for decades there were no concerts or film screenings. And women were at the most receiving end. Attempt to even drive a car could lead them to an arrest.
Prince Salman grabbed headlines in recent days by vowing a return to “moderate Islam”. He also suggested that his father’s generation steered the country down a problematic path and that it was time to. “Get rid of it.”
“We only want to go back to what we were: Moderate Islam that is open to the world, open to all religions,” he said in the ornate grand hall of the Ritz-Carlton. “We will not waste 30 years of our lives in dealing with extremist ideas. Will destroy them today.”
His remarks garland with applause and a front-page article in Britain’s Guardian Newspaper. In expanded remarks to the paper, the 32-year-old prince Salman said that successive Saudi monarchs “didn’t know how to deal with” Iran’s 1979 revolution that brought to power a clerical Shia leadership still in place today.
This is how crown prince bin Salman is set to change the face of Saudi Arabia:
1) Since catapulting to power with the support of his father, the king, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pushed forth changes that could usher in a new era for one of the United States’ most important allies and swing the kingdom away from decades of ultraconservative dogma and restrictions. His introduction to musical concerts and movies again and is a welcome sign for the force behind the king’s decision to grant women the right to drive as of next year.
2) Opposition to the changes has so far been muted, but some critics of the prince have been detained. When social openings in the kingdom were taking place four decades ago, Sunni extremists opposed to the monarchy laid siege to Islam’s holiest site in Mecca.
3) Prince Mohammed’s agenda is upending the ruling Al Saud’s longstanding alliance with the kingdom’s clerical establishment in favour of synchronising with a more cosmopolitan, global capitalism that appeals to international investors and maybe even non-Muslim tourists.
4) In his sweeping “Vision 2030” plan to wean Saudi Arabia off of its near total dependence on petrodollars, Prince Mohammed laid out a vision for “a tolerant country with Islam as its constitution and moderation as its method.”
5) Prince Mohammed, or MBS as he is widely known, used a rare public appearance on stage at a major investor conference in the capital, Riyadh, this week to drive home that message to a global audience.
6) Wahabism had ruled Saudi Arabia since it came into existence 85 years ago. Salman’s remarks welcome with applause and a front-page article in Britain’s Guardian Newspaper. In expanded remarks to the paper, the 32-year-old prince said that successive Saudi monarchs “didn’t know how to deal with” Iran’s 1979 revolution that brought to power a clerical Shia leadership still in place today.
To appease a sizeable conservative segment of the population at home, cinemas were shuttered, women were banned from appearing on state television and the religious police were emboldened.
7) Much is now changing under the crown prince as he consolidates greater powers and prepares to inherit the throne. There are plans to build a Six Flags theme park and a semi-autonomous Red Sea tourist destination. Wherein the strict rules on women’s dress will likely not apply. Females have greater access to sports and other recreational activities. The powers of the once-feared religious police have been curtailed and restrictions on gender segregation are being eased.
Unlike previous Saudi monarchs, such as King Abdullah who backed gradual and cautious openings, Prince Mohammed is moving quickly.
8) More than half of Saudi Arabia’s 20 million citizens are below the age of 25, meaning millions of young Saudis will be entering the workforce in the coming decade. The government is urgently trying to create more jobs and ward off the kinds of grievances that sparked uprisings in other Arab countries where unemployment is rampant and citizens have little say in government.
9) This new Saudi version of “moderate Islam” is amicable as one that is amenable to economic reforms. It does not close shops at prayer time or banish women from public life, Fandy said.
10) Buzzwords like “reform,” “transparency” and “accountability” . All used by the prince in his promotion of Vision 2030. Do not, however, mean that Saudi Arabia is moving toward greater liberalism, democracy, pluralism or freedom of speech.
The government does not grant licenses to non-Muslim houses of worship and limits those of its Shia Muslim citizens.
11) The prince has also made no mention of human rights concerns. If anything, dozens of the prince’s critics face detention as a warning to others who dare to speak out.
Meanwhile, Prince Mohammed Salman faces a Saudi public that remains religiously conservative. That means he still needs public support from the state’s top clerics. The public support is mandate in order to position his reforms as Islamic and religiously permissible.
These clerics, many of whom had spoken out in the past against women working and driving, appear unwilling or unable to publicly criticize the moves. In this absolute monarchy, the king holds final say on most matters. Meanwhile the public has shown it is welcoming the changes and supports the King.