President of the Emirates Policy Center, Dr. Ebtesam Al-Ketbi, said that current changes in Saudi Arabia will break down the stereotypical image of the Kingdom. She praised the initiatives of the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, specifically in light of the the projects and plans announced during the economically game-changing “Future Investment Initiative”.

"There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia is a powerhouse in the regional and international scene, and what is currently happening in the kingdom casts its shadow over the Gulf region and the entire Arab world," said Dr. Ebtesam.

EPC President added: "I look positively to what is happening in Saudi Arabia, specifically, as that change is being led by a young prince who aspires to the future and aims to change society for the better, economically and socially, in addition to trying to implement religious reform, to change the stereotypical image of Saudi Arabia, formed post what is referred to as the (awakening years,) starting with the Iranian revolution and the war on Afghanistan and subsequent events, which dark forces such as the Muslim Brotherhood, and groups affiliated with ISIS and Al Qaeda, took advantage of.”

Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, declared, Tuesday, the Kingdom's determination to return to "moderate Islam”. Dr. Ebtesam found such efforts to fit within the framework of changing the stereotype about Saudi Arabia and the Arab region as a whole. She explained that the region is stigmatized with backwardness and extremism, and an inferior view of women, and emphasized that the emergence of militant groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda “reinforced” these stigmas.

"What Prince Mohammed bin Salman has put forward is returning to the image that existed before the so called (awakening years.) The current image has been a dark one ever since the Iranian revolution and the war on Afghanistan, events exploited by radical groups to monopolize religious and political scenes, used as tools in political rivalries in attempt to rise to power and to erase the image of the moderation and tolerance of these communities which lived in peace for centuries, despite their various religious affiliations, whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish or even non-religious, and different sects from Sunnis to Shiites,” said Dr. Ebtesam.

EPC President stressed: “Arab societies have known extremism only after changes in the political landscape, beginning with the 1980 war in Afghanistan, the Iranian revolution, the US invasion of Iraq and September 11. These events transformed the region, young people were mobilized to go to Afghanistan, or they were mobilized and brainwashed to go to war in Iraq and Syria. And strange organizations such as ISIS emerged.”

"Islam is a religion of tolerance, and the true Muslim is a tolerant one who reconciles with himself and with others. It is mentioned in the Quran, that in matters of religion – to each his own; thus the true Muslim accepts diversity,” Dr. Ebtesam said.

She added: "I think this step is a bold and very courageous step by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a step that is currently needed to reform the Saudi and Arab scene, and to break the stereotype about Gulf nations and Arabs in general," she said.

The Saudi Crown Prince's efforts reflects Saudi Arabia “push towards to the future," Dr. Ebtesam said, adding that these efforts will brighten the prospects of the region as a whole.

"I believe that everyone should stand behind Saudi Arabia, King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the young Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who represents a light at the end of the tunnel for the Arab young generation, by embracing these transformative ideas, which I believe will have a huge impact on Saudi society,” EPC President said.

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