An exceptional prince with creativity and courage, and who cannot be copied

March 04, 2022
An exceptional prince with creativity and courage, and who cannot be copied

Jameel Altheyabi

IN times of such cloudy skies over the international political arena, the world needs great leaders with boldness, clarity and courage as that of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman to put dots over the letters.

There is no doubt that the interview conducted with him by the American magazine “The Atlantic” confirms the keenness that the world attaches to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the great political and economic weight enjoyed by the country, as well as the Kingdom’s aspirations to achieve the goals of Vision 2030, which both friends and enemies alike testify to. The interview confirms something very important; that is the personality of Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, who is able to elaborate on a wide range of topics such as jurisprudence, schools of thought, politics, and economics, with actions that precede words.

Among the most prominent features of the Crown Prince’s “charisma” is that he answers all questions without fear, hesitation or ambiguity. All these features are evident in all his press interviews or direct meetings with him: clarity, candidness, political realism, and transparency.

The most striking feature of the Crown Prince’s latest interview was his talk about the modernization and reforms that the Kingdom is witnessing and its mega projects. This represents emphatically an inner desire that is based on creativity and not on copying. Honestly speaking, the interview of the Crown Prince with “The Atlantic” was replete with titles, and each one of its paragraphs serves as a main title that is shining more.

The Crown Prince, with the utmost boldness and realism, acknowledged the existence of parties seeking to thwart the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030. But he assured Saudis that no power on the earth could do so. The reforms and Vision projects have already resulted in Saudi Arabia entering the list of the fastest growing economies, and it is targeting a 7 percent growth rate in the coming year.

He also talked about the battle against corruption, which he led under the directive of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman. He considered this as an imperative to build confidence in government work as well as to pick competent ministers, raise the attractiveness of foreign investment in the Kingdom, and restore value and esteem for the public job in the state.

The Crown Prince was also candid when he asserted that appeasing others does not exist in Saudis’ dictionary. He specifically stated that reforms related to women are for Saudi Arabia only, which confirms the Kingdom’s sovereignty over its national decision in both internal and external affairs. Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman was keen to stress that Saudi Arabia’s relations with its strategic allies are based on equality, trust and mutual respect. Prince Muhammad Bin Salman also referred to the size of Saudi investments in the United States with his assertion that Saudi Arabia is fully aware whether it should increase those investments or reduce investments in a way serving its interests. He also referred to the volume of Saudi investments in China while explaining that it is small compared to those in the United States but it can develop quickly.

All these are signs of a Saudi leader who knows what equality means in foreign relations, and it means the need for wisdom when dealing with world powers. He also asserted that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a “one-country” entity, based on collective security and common destiny, facing risks and challenges jointly, and exploiting economic opportunities.

One of the key messages delivered by the Crown Prince in his answers was his emphasis that the terrorist Brotherhood remains one of the major threats to the security of the region, and what necessitated the Kingdom’s adherence to its responsibilities in the war against terrorism, deterring extremists and exposing their criminal behavior. The Crown Prince revealed that, in the context of confronting attempts to hijack Islam, he is entering into a huge Saudi project to document the authentic Traditions of the Prophet (Hadith) so as to neutralize everything that extremists might find in Hadith as an entry point to justify their actions. He also emphasized that Saudi Arabia has changed today from what it was seven years ago and it has no monopoly on religious opinion and that it will not allow extremists, whether Sunni or Shiite, to hijack Islam.

He explained to the world, which keenly follows the Kingdom’s process of modernization and societal reforms, that Saudi Arabia is pursuing in accordance with its economic and cultural components and that it does not seek to implement copied experiments. He also affirmed that Saudi Arabia takes into account the culture and beliefs of its people while moving forward with its reform process. It is important for the world to realize that Islam, which is the basis of government in Saudi Arabia, commands respect for religions and cultures, and therefore Saudi Arabia aims to return to pure Islam, and not to “politicized Islam.”

One of the important points highlighted by Prince Muhammad Bin Salman while answering questions raised during the interview with “The Atlantic” was that Saudis are equal before the law, and that there is no “royal blood” in Saudi Arabia who enjoys exemption while enforcing the country’s laws and regulations. This is a sublime language in social discourse. How amazing was the Crown Prince’s frankness when he affirmed that the royal family is not closed on itself, and that his mother does not belong to the House of Saud, but to a Saudi tribe. This confirms the royal family’s interaction with various components of the Saudi population.

One of the most striking messages in the Crown Prince’s talk was that if the stealing of public wealth amounting to $100 was perpetrated by an executive official, his position would not have absolved him of accountability. This is an approach that promotes integrity. We should not forget that the Crown Prince’s boldness in providing answers to all questions that affect the lives of the Saudi people, their future, their development, and their current conditions, was logically constrained to the complexities of the specific Saudi situation, at the level of history, society, tribal and religious components, and so on.

This allowed Prince Muhammad Bin Salman to speak about the absolute monarchy, and the possibilities of changing it with a constitutional monarchy, to the point of saying that it is an absolute monarchy but the Saudi governing system restricts it with specific controls. All such issues were not previously addressed in Saudi Arabia.

Certainly, the most important and exciting elements with regard to the region and the world are the answers of the Saudi Crown Prince to two questions related to Iran and Israel. He has put dots on the letters of the announced communications between Saudi Arabia and Iran. He stressed that neither of them will be able to eradicate the other, and there is no solution to what is between them except through coexistence.

As for Israel, especially after the Gulf and Arab countries announced the establishment of relations with it, the Crown Prince’s position was more bold and candid when he said: “For us, we hope that the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is solved. We don't look at Israel as an enemy; we look to them as a potential ally, with many interests that we can pursue together. But we have to solve some issues before we get to that.”

Certainly, nothing is more evident than these answers which are more closely related to the Saudi reality as well as to the foreign policy objectives of the Kingdom, which recently celebrated the 300th anniversary of its founding. The Kingdom is still capable of confronting challenges and producing leaders such as Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, who is determined to make the developmental shift without prejudice to the principles of Saudi Arabia, its people, its heritage, and its true creed. All these are confirmed by the following answer of the Crown Prince to a question during the interview. What do you want Joe Biden to know about you that he might not know? His answer was simple: “I don’t care.”

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