RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has defended his bold reform plans, including the kingdom’s decision to lift the ban on women driving, saying that “we were not like this in the past.”
The prince says that “we want to go back to what we were: moderate Islam,” speaking during a rare public appearance at a major investment conference in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
The heir to the throne says the kingdom will work to defeat extremist ideas and ensure that young Saudis live in harmony with the rest of the world.
He says: “We will eradicate the remnants of extremism very soon… We represent the moderate teachings and principles of Islam.”
He addressed a panel that included business titans Stephen Schwarzman of U.S. private equity firm Blackstone and Masayoshi Son of Japan’s technology conglomerate SoftBank.
The panelists later lavished praise on the 32-year-old prince for his “passion”, “vision” and “enthusiasm” but he interjected, saying he is only “one of 20 million people. I am nothing without them.”