Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.

Change is not Exclusive to Saudi Arabia

Even though the speaker is the Saudi Crown Prince and his speech is about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its society, the idea of countering extremism and returning to moderate Islam is supposed to be the project of all countries in the region along with the international community.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman is speaking about building the future as the best method to leave the past behind us. He believes that evolution requires change, and to achieve that, one must admit to the problem and have the courage to deal with it.

On Tuesday, Prince Mohammed bin Salman was honest, bold, and clear in addressing the world. He spoke about returning to the Saudi community that was once governed by its ancestors: A religious and tolerant society free of extremism.

It is true that currently there is a problem inherited from the near past. The Prince addressed the issue openly without any embarrassment or deliberation. He said that extremists imposed their ideologies on the society after 1979, precisely following the revolution of Ayatullah Khomeini which opened the door to extremism.

Prince Mohammed pledged that it is about time to counter extreme ideologies and destroy them.

The Prince's speech resonated all over the Kingdom and not just in the conference hall. He chose an important occasion to deliver his speech while presenting one of Saudi Arabia's futuristic projects to the investors and the world, explaining his development plan for future generations.

With this courageous statement, Saudi Arabia is leading a new current in the region and the Islamic world - a trend we can pin hope on in order to emerge from the extremist era that threatens the world.

The Saudi Crown Prince proved that he keeps his word. He made many promises and proposed several openness initiatives that proved to the Saudi people, and the whole world, that he meant it and that his country is leading a campaign against extreme ideologies and extremists. Decisions were issued and laws were amended for that purpose.

The dispute with its neighboring country Qatar is only part of that policy. Saudi Arabia adopted a clear stance that it refuses to have relations with the Qatari regime if it continues to fund extremist groups on its territories, support them through the media, and host fugitives.

There is zero tolerance in the Kingdom's speech against extremism. It will no longer be lenient with individuals, officials or private institutions that disseminate radical Islam socially and politically.

The Saudi government has adopted dozens of openness programs that surprised us. We had previously thought they were tough or even impossible decisions, under the current political circumstances. 

The importance of the Crown Prince's statement comes from the importance of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a leading country for over one billion Muslims around the world. Prince Mohammed bin Salman holds the legitimacy, vision, and courage that enable him to lead the wave of change and salvage Islamic communities around the world from the ideological destruction that has been inflicting it since 1979.

After all, Saudi Arabia is the spiritual reference for Muslims.

The purpose is not only to rid people of extremists and extremism, but also build a promising future for the younger generation. Positive change sets the stage, (such as the announcement of building a giant area northwest of the country that links all continents together), opens the door for modern industry, international trade, and tourism, and relies on high-end technologies.

At the Riyadh conference, the discussions were about life and not death, about the future and not the past, and that’s why we hope the kingdom would become everyone's threshold for change.