Changes in Saudi Arabia based on people’s will

Winning war against terrorism should be followed by focus on extremism, Gargash says

Manama: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said new realities in the kingdom are behind the current changes in the country and their pace.

The high number of Saudi men and women, who have had direct contact with the outside world either through studies or travel today, have new hopes and ambitions that they want to achieve “now, and not in 20 years”, he said, during a panel discussion titled “Finding a New Equilibrium in the Middle East” in Davos.

The young people want wise, transparent, and effective governance, and they do not want obstacles that stop them from achieving their ambitions and fulfilling their dreams. This means Saudi Arabia should make fundamental changes that include opening up areas that have been hitherto closed, tackling corruption in a transparent manner and efficiently, attracting investments and setting up projects, the minister said.

Al Jubeir said that those who claimed that Saudi Arabia could use its financial resources in other projects should appreciate the positive results that former US president John Kennedy achieved by using America’s financial resources to send people to the moon instead of “spending on other projects”.

The minister highlighted contradictory statements by some in the West who used to criticise Saudi Arabia for moving too slowly on changes, but now claim the country is moving too fast.

Al Jubeir cited what he said was another baffling contradiction in reference to those who used to claim that Saudi Arabia was not fighting its own wars and was instead making others fight on its behalf.

When the kingdom asserted itself and took control to fill the void left after the US pulled out of the region, and “forces of evil” sought to replace it, it is being criticised for its military actions and being told not to lead, he said.

People today understand that Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman wants Saudi Arabia to be innovative and strong internally and externally, to empower the youth and women, to become a model for Arabs and Muslims and to hold a strong position in the world.

Changes in Saudi Arabia have to be comprehensive, and should be based on the wishes of the people, especially the youths, as 70 per cent of the population is less than 30.

UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash stressed during the panel discussion the significance of moving from the state of chaos that feeds on religious extremism.

He said too much blood was being spilled in the name of ideologies, and that there was a need to move back to the normal state where security prevailed in a civilian state, he added.

Gargash said there were countries looking into the past and trying to apply it to the present.

He added the Arab Youth Survey 2017 found young Arabs viewed unemployment and extremism as the two biggest problems holding the Middle East back.

Gargash warned that winning the war on terrorism was not enough, and that there was a need to win the war against extremism.

Discussions on funding terrorism should be followed by conversations about the funding of extremism, he added.

The UAE official said the countries in the region should be normal states that are like other countries, such as those in Far East and the West.

There is a strong need to think of domestic solutions, he added.


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