Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made his remarks during the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh [File: Reuters]
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday said Saudi Arabia will “return” to a “moderate Islam that is open to all religions” – comments likely to rile staunch conservatives in the Gulf kingdom.
The crown prince also announced Saudi Arabia will “eradicate promoters of extremist thoughts”, saying the country was not like this in the past.
“We are returning to what we were before – a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world,” the 32-year-old heir to the throne said.
Bin Salman, also known as MBS, made the remarks during a Future Investment Initiative (FII) summit in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
FII is an international event at which Saudi Arabia seeks out investment into the kingdom from around the world.
During Tuesday’s event, Salman voiced his confidence in Saudi Arabia’s younger generation and its ability to adjust to a post-oil world, mentioning among other things the benefits of solar power.
Bin Salman’s remarks come a month after Saudi Arabia made a landmarkdecision to allow women to legally drive vehicles starting in June 2018, in a move that was criticised by some conservative voices on Saudi social media but welcomed by rights activists.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive.
MBS was appointed crown prince in June this year.
Despite pledges of reform, critics have highlighted the continuing crackdownon human rights activists and others challenging the status quo.