OPINION: Prince Mohammed Bin Salman charms people with ‘Halal’ magic

by Abdullah Bin Bijad Al-Otaibi

Everything that the prince had said is important, but I will comment here on issues of identity, history, Islam, extremism, society and ideologies.

The word magician is deemed an accusation when it is used to label prophets and messengers of God. However, it is an advantage and a virtue when it is used to call the talented and creative people in any field and in any art. In this sense, we can say that Prince Muhammad Bin Salman has charmed people with halal magic.

“Constructive ambiguity” is a term generally credited to former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. He spoke about the deliberate use of ambiguous language on a sensitive issue as a strategy. The superstitious people in the ancient time used ambiguity to promote “witchcraft.”

Prince Mohammad Bin Salman does not use ambiguity, but on the contrary, he relies systematically, intensely and consistently on “clarity” and “transparency”.

His vision “Saudi Arabia 2030” and all its supportive programs that cover entire aspects of the Saudi state and life of its people are announced and published with all the minute details, phases and figures, not only in Saudi Arabia, but in the whole world. It can be read in most languages of the world, and this is the magic of clarity and not ambiguity.

The Vision of the Saudi Crown Prince is his project that confronts a “project to thwart it.” This project to thwart the “Saudi Vision 2030” involves international, regional and local parties, as well as countries, groups and individuals.

The Crown Prince said in his interview with the American magazine ‘The Atlantic’: “There are a lot of people who want to be sure that our project, Saudi Arabia’s project today, Vision 2030, fails. But they can’t touch it. It will never fail. No one on the whole world has the power to make it fail,” he said.

He added, “There are a few groups — I don’t want to point fingers — but anyone with good knowledge can make the link between groups in the West, and groups in the Middle East, who have interests in seeing us fail.”

In 2018, the prince spoke to the American magazine “Time” about the dangers of the Muslim Brotherhood. Before and after this, he emphasized the need to return to the real Islam before “political Islam” groups distorted it. He also spoke about extremism.

In 2021, he spoke with Abdullah Al-Mudaifer in a detailed talk about his vision on the issues of identity, Shariah and Islam in an unprecedented manner, with clarity of argument and strength of logic.

In Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince’s visions quickly turn into projects and programs, scoring successes and achievements. But these schemes were delayed due to various reasons, including the fact that change needs time to reach maturity.

Some people were unable to comprehend the prince’s ideas, and their depth, comprehensiveness and future prospects while some others were much more comprehensive than Saudi Arabia as a country, but rather they constitute a civilized way out for all Muslim countries. There are some others who want to see “failure” of these projects as the prince had mentioned.

Some observers expressed their astonishment over the delay in implementing the visions. The prince made it clear that some of these ideas have already translated into reality, and that a cultural project pertaining to the Prophetic Traditions will see the light within two years.

Everything that the prince had said is important, but I will comment here on issues of identity, history, Islam, extremism, society and ideologies, due to space constraint. The prince said: “Our country is founded on a set of views and beliefs that are based on Islam, on tribal culture, Arab culture, and unique attributes to Saudi culture and beliefs. That’s our soul.”

He stressed, “We are going back to the real teachings of Islam, the way that the Prophet and the four Rightly Guided caliphs lived, which was open and peaceful societies.” He said about extremists: “The Muslim Brotherhood, the Ikhwan, played a huge role in creating all of this extremism. They were the bridge that took others to extremism. When you talk to them, they will not seem to be extremists, but they lead you to extremism.”

Then he spoke elaborately about Sheikh Mohammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab, saying: “I would say that Mohammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab is not a prophet, he is not an angel. He was just a scholar like many other scholars who lived during the first Saudi state, among many political leaders and military leaders.”

He also spoke in detail about the problem at that time in the Arabian Peninsula was that Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s students were the only people who knew how to read and write and history was written from their perspective. Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s writing has been used by many extremists to serve their own agendas.

The prince also added that Ibn Abdul Wahhab is not Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has Sunnis and Shiites, and among Sunni, you have four schools of thought, and Shiites have different schools, and all of them are represented in number of religious boards.

This comprehensive and deep talk opens doors to a new concept of freedom in dealing with history with modern and advanced specialized scientific tools. We can congratulate independent historians, history departments in universities, historical research institutions, and serious researchers for heralding a new era that opens up real opportunities for them to bring out the “silent” and address the “prohibited” previously due to a complex network of reasons, pretexts and interests. Now, the door is open and the road is open.

Everyone should pay attention to the fact that the phases of states’ victory for themselves as well as for their history and identity are sensitive stages that require application of reason and wisdom, and should not be tainted by labeling, biases, or prejudices against anyone whether regions, tribes or families. The goal shall be to serve the present and the future, as well as consolidate unity and build generations.

After centuries of rule by the House of Saud in Diriyah, Mohammad Bin Saud came and established a state for which he leveraged all energies and capabilities, overcame challenges, and established a bright future. After its fall, Turki Bin Abdullah rose, restored the state, and overcame the challenges. After its downfall, King Abdul Aziz came and established the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, overcoming challenges and illuminated the way.

In this era, Mohammad Bin Salman came, transcended challenges, employed all energies and illuminated the paths. He taught the world and Saudis about potentials that no one had heard of and no one thought of before him, and the fabric of the founders of the state is of one substance, even if there are divergence in eras and circumstances.

Leaders who change history are few, and they gather — throughout history and across geography — talents that people consider “magic” because people are unable to explain them. Leaders see what people do not see, and even if some people share some competence with them, they do not share with them in building strategies as well as in realizing quality of administration, strength of decision making, and achieving goals.

In the American journalist’s questions, he was clearly influenced by unfriendly thoughts towards the Crown Prince and towards Saudi Arabia. The answers speak for themselves in understanding the hidden intentions, self-criticism and acknowledgment of the mistakes of the distant and near past. The goal is success, and the ultimate aim is a bright future.

Finally, the context here is purely descriptive, neither praise nor criticism and slander, but rather an approach to the image and a reflection of reality and an explanation of the outcomes of ideas and the results of the Vision.

This article was originally published in Asharq Al-Awsat. Translated by Saudi Gazette.

Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi is a Saudi writer and researcher. He is a member of the board of advisors at Al-Mesbar Studies and Research Center. He tweets under @abdullahbjad.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Milli Chronicle’s point-of-view.