Home Global Village Will re-branding Islam work for Saudi Arabia?

Will re-branding Islam work for Saudi Arabia?

Kingdom

News Analysis |

This week, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) vowed to transform the Ultra Conservative country into a hub of ‘moderate Islam.’ It seeks the cooperation and support of the Western elite to help them transform into a more open society.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) surprisingly stated that “I will return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam.”

He explained that KSA had not been normal for the past 30 years, sighting and blaming the rigid Islamic doctrines implemented in post-Iranian revolution era. He argued that successive leaders “didn’t know how to deal with it.”

The reformist, aiming high to transform the fortunes of the oil-dependent nation has the clear understanding of KSA’s image which lacks openness to lure investors.

While speaking at the conference termed as ‘Davos in Desert’, Prince Muhammad bin Salman said, “We are simply reverting to what we followed – a moderate Islam open to the world and all religions.”

Read more: Saudi Arabia fires extremist Imams from Mosques and seminaries

Ultra-conservative Islam has been embedded in the roots of KSA that has long been accused of allegedly exporting the Ultra conservative form of Islam. Wahabism had been established in the Arabian peninsula approximately 200 years ago. It was Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahab who created a strict sect promoting Islamic doctrines.

It was his partnership with Muhammad ibn Saud- a local ruler which led to the formation of first Saudi emirate. State-sponsored Wahabism has been considered a threat to the West since the emergence of KSA as an ultra-rich-conservative country.

The fear of sudden and at times prolonged drop in prices can derail the economy and can quickly put the country into the red.

Because of these strict doctrines, reaction to Prince Salman’s moderation dream has been considered far-fetched. It has been embraced and criticized at the same time.

West had long demanded tolerance and liberties in KSA, but it could not materialize. Even after these high profile announcements, not many believe Prince’s moderation stance.

Read more: Young Saudi girl sparks hot debate in Saudi Arabia after her…

Some analysts argued that the reappearance of the term, ‘moderate Islam’ was probably included at the request of the US, since, it is merely a hollow rhetoric to appease the US, making it anti-solution to fight the global war against the extremism.

In Turkey, a lawmaker has viciously criticized the use of the term, ‘Moderate Islam’ by claiming that it is also used by the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. She added that ‘I don’t accept the term ‘moderate Islam,’ because Islam doesn’t need to be moderate. I don’t think such a starting point is appropriate”.

Because of these strict doctrines, reaction to Prince Salman’s moderation dream has been considered far-fetched. It has been embraced and criticized at the same time.

Second and more prudent explanation of this sudden discourse is the ‘Economic vision 2030’ under his belt. Prince has to deliver, and unless moderation is not practically shown, chances of success are dim.

Read more: The year Saudi Arabia wants to forget

The reformists, aiming to transform the fortunes of the oil-dependent nation has the clear understanding of KSA’s image which lacks openness to lure investors. The fear of sudden and at times prolonged drop in prices can derail the economy and can quickly put the country into the red. Hence, this campaign is meant to encourage western companies to invest in KSA by exhibiting it as a moderate liberal country. However, whether it will work is yet to be seen.


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