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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH — The Shariah (Islamic) law does not contradict equality between men and women, the Kingdom’s ambassador to Britain has said. “Gender equality is not counter to Shariah law. Shariah law is often misunderstood. It is adaptable, and if you look throughout the history of Islam, things have adapted based on the circumstances that people are in,” Prince Khalid Bin Bandar said during an interview with British news website UnHerd published on Tuesday.
The prestigious UnHerd was founded in 2017. It is edited by former Daily Telegraph and Independent journalist Sally Chatterton.
Saudi Arabia, Prince Khalid said, is moving in a positive direction when it comes to establishing gender equality.
“The development and the change that has happened in the society of Saudi Arabia has been dramatic over the last hundred years... We’ve moved from a very, very different place a hundred years ago to where we are today and we’re continuing to develop,” he said.
“I firmly believe that Saudi Arabia is moving positively in the right direction... And we’ve opened up a lot in the last four or five years.”
The Saudi ambassador highlighted the fact that allowing women to drive is one of the positive changes in the Kingdom: “You’ve seen the changes in the last three years, women driving for instance.”
He also stressed that Saudi Arabia is not looking to more “Westernized”: “It’s about developing what is right for us.”
Religion, the ambassador said, was “at the heart” of the Saudi identity and he highlighted how religion is “part of daily life” in the Kingdom: “Going to the mosque isn’t something you do once a week, you do it every day.”
Talkin g about the Saudi culture, the envoy said: "The foundation of Saudi society is so different — it’s not agrarian, it’s not about landholdings, it’s a Bedouin nomadic society and that produces a totally different set of ideals for a culture”.
On changes in Saudi society, the ambassador sounded pragmatic. “My grandfather used to go to work on horseback; my father flew fast jets; and a cousin of mine was the first Arab in space. And that’s in three generations. And God knows the gap between that and my children and the world they grow up in.
"We want to be living in the future. We live in such a fast-paced world today that catching up is no longer good enough. You have to move twice as fast as the person in front of you.”
According to a World Bank report in January, Saudi Arabia made the biggest progress globally toward gender equality since 2017.
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