Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said the return of “moderate Islam” is key to his plans to modernise the Gulf kingdom.
The prince vowed to “eradicate the remnants of extremism very soon”. He made the comments after announcing the investment of $500bn (£381bn) in a new city and business zone.
Dubbed NEOM, it will be situated on 26,500 sq km (10,230 sq miles) of Saudi Arabia’s north-western Red Sea coast, near Egypt and Jordan.
Prince Mohammed defended the reforms at an economic conference in Riyadh on Tuesday that drew foreign investors and dignitaries.
“We are returning to what we were before – a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions, traditions and people around the globe,” he said. “We want to live a normal life. A life in which our religion translates to tolerance, to our traditions of kindness,” he added.
He said, “Seventy percent of the Saudi population is under 30, and honestly we will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with destructive ideas. We will destroy them today and at once.”