Saudi king seeks to bridge Muslim divide

Abdullah calls for “solidarity”, suggests Riyadh-based centre for dialogue in Ramadan speech
Saudi king seeks to bridge Muslim divide
Saudi Arabias King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (C) is escorted by Turkish Abdullah Gul (R) as Bruneis Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (C-L) looks on during an extraordinary summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Mecca on August 14, 2012 (AFP/Getty Images).
By Ed Attwood
Wed 15 Aug 2012 01:57 PM

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has called for “solidarity, tolerance and moderation” in a bid to bridge what is perceived to be a widening gap between Muslim sects.

In a speech to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Makkah, the king offered to host a “centre for dialogue” in the Saudi capital.

“The Islamic nation is currently living in a state of sedition and disunity that led to bloodshed of its people in this holy month,” King Abdullah said, according to state news agency SPA.

Saudi Arabia has used the OIC summit as an opportunity to reach out to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who attended and sat beside the king during an event to welcome leaders of member states.

The summit comes against a backdrop of rising tension between predominantly Shi’a Iran - which backs the Syrian regime and is facing US-led sanctions over allegations that it is building nuclear weapons - and the Gulf states, which are largely Sunni, and are pushing for transition in Syria and which maintain close relations with the US.

Saudi Arabia has also accused Iran of fomenting instability by backing Shi’a protests in the Gulf, particularly in Bahrain.

“I suggest hereby the establishment of a centre for dialogue among Islamic sects to come to common terms with the city of Riyadh as its headquarters and, upon recommendation by the Secretariat General and the Ministerial Council, its members be selected from within the Islamic summit conference,” King Abdullah added. 

The 57-member OIC represents the interests of an estimated 1.5bn Muslims worldwide.

For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.