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Crown prince pledges 'moderate, open' Saudi Arabia

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RIYADH: Crown Prince Mohammed Salman pledged a "moderate, open" Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, breaking with ultra-conservative clerics in favour of an image catering to foreign investors and Saudi youth.

Hours after announcing the launch of an independent $500 billion megacity with "separate regulation" along the Red Sea, the prince, 32, told international investors at an economic forum in Riyadh: "We want to live a normal life. A life in which our religion translates to tolerance, to our traditions of kindness."

"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," he said.

Prince Mohammed said he would see to it his country moved past 1979, a reference to the rise of political Islam in the years following the assassination of King Faisal in 1975.

His statement is the most direct attack by a Saudi official on the Gulf country's influential conservative religious circles.

"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. - AFP

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