Saudi Arabia has made leaps in recent months to catch up with the modern world – and now, the kingdom’s representatives are pushing away from their conservative roots in a dramatic fashion.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced yesterday that he would be taking a direct stance against the kingdom’s puritanical religious clerics and pushing for a more “moderate Islam”.
“We want to live a normal life. A life in which our religion translates to tolerance, to our traditions of kindness,” said the prince at an economic forum in Riyadh.
“Seventy percent of the Saudi population is under 30, and honestly we will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with destructive ideas. We will destroy them today and at once,” he added.
The 32-year-old Crown Prince, who is next in line to be Saudi Arabia‘s king, is one of the first major political figures to directly denounce the country’s regressive religious nature. In an interview with the Guardian, the prince explained how the nation’s harmful conservatism is mostly a result of the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
“What happened in the last 30 years is not Saudi Arabia. What happened in the region in the last 30 years is not the Middle East,” bin Salman told the Guardian. “After the Iranian revolution in 1979, people wanted to copy this model in different countries, one of them is Saudi Arabia. We didn’t know how to deal with it. And the problem spread all over the world. Now is the time to get rid of it.”
In addition to the denouncement of extremism and female oppression, bin Salman has pushed for more development in the tourism and entertainment industries as a means of steering away from oil dependency.
Saudi Arabia, which is ranked as one of the world’s top crude oil exporters, also recently launched a $50 billion initiative to phase out fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy.
The country plans on harnessing 10 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2023 by constructing several wind and solar plants throughout the nation. The initiative will not only be economically beneficial for the nation’s residents, but will also help curb Saudi Arabia’s main federal income away from crude oil, as well as help the country meet worldwide sustainable energy goals.
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Reprint (Photo by U.S. Department of State)