In a historic speech on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the kingdom will "return to a moderate Islam that is open to all religions", in a bid to destroy extremist ideologies.

The comments were made during the Future Investment Initiative (FII) summit in Riyadh which saw MBS discuss the many cultural and economic transformations expected to take place in coming years. 

"We want to lead normal lives, lives where our religion and our traditions translate into tolerance, so that we coexist with the world and become part of the development of the world," the ambitious royal said, according to CNN.

For decades, the laws of the country have been based on a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. 

MBS believes it has worsened over the past few decades. 

"Saudi was not like this before '79. Saudi Arabia and the entire region went through a revival after '79. ... All we're doing is going back to what we were: a moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world and to all traditions and people," he said

However, the crown prince is looking to revive the old Saudi Arabia. In more recent years, the kingdom has witnessed a number of changes - albeit slowly - from a rather conservative nation to a more 'moderate' one.

Here are some examples of that shift:

1. Imposing new rules on religious preachers in Saudi Arabia

In 2016, imams and preachers in Saudi Arabia were warned from sharing hostile expressions which include criticizing countries or people in their sermons. 

In doing so, the kingdom said it will carefully monitor and regulate mosque imams and preachers that have been in place for nearly five decades, according to Gulf News. 

In addition to critical and hostile speech, preachers were also warned from weighing in on tribal or political issues. Violators could risk being removed or see a reduction in their financial perks.

The new laws have seen a number of clerics being penalized from going against the grain - including the September crackdown which led to the detention of up to 10 popular clerics. 

According to The Guardian, it was considered to be the "biggest mass arrest of its kind in the kingdom’s recent history". 

Another popular incident that shows just how far Saudi Arabia is willing to go to combat extremist remarks is the recent banning of the Saudi cleric who suggested that "women only have a quarter of a brain". 

2. Restricting the powers of the Saudi religious police

Source: Wikipedia

In 2016, the kingdom issued a new law in an effort to regulate the power of the religious police. 

A number of new reforms followed, which banned members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice from arresting suspects or practicing any other form of law enforcement. 

According to the Saudi Press Agency, the law states that committee members are not allowed to "stop people, put reservations on them, chase them, ask for their documents, verify their identities, or follow them".

As the Washington Post put it, the religious police could "nag but no longer police." 

The police are expected to carry out "the duty of promoting virtue and preventing vice in a gentle and kind way", the sixth article of the new law says.

For some time, the religious police disappeared from the streets of Saudi Arabia ... up until a few months ago, when they were seen clamping down on uncovered hair and enforcing gender segregation in Riyadh.

However, in legal terms, they don't have the power to do more than just rebuke people.

3. Setting up a commission to authenticate the prophet's sayings

Source: Instagram

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia announced that it would monitor interpretations of the 'hadith' -  the accounts describing the words, actions or habits of Prophet Mohammad. 

The royal decree issued by King Salman aims to prevent preachers and jurists from using false interpretations in their teachings to justify violence and terrorism. 

King Salman ordered the establishment of an authority to "scrutinize uses of the hadith", according to Reuters

The body’s aim is to "eliminate fake and extremist texts and any texts that contradict the teachings of Islam and justify the committing of crimes, murders, and terrorist acts".

4. Taking major steps forward to improve women's rights

In September, Saudi Arabia announced that women in the kingdom will finally be allowed to drive. 

The decision is expected to be fully implemented by June 2018. Female members of society have been fighting for their right to drive since the 1990s - the year Saudi Arabia officially banned women from taking the wheel. 

The lifting of the ban on women driving is not the first nor the last step the kingdom's new leadership has taken to improve women's rights. 

In 2016, Saudi Arabia amended a number of laws in an effort to empower women, including opening municipal elections to female candidates, and making women's verbal consent to marriage mandatory.

Earlier this year, King Salman issued a new royal decree, giving women the right to apply for work permits, medical, and educational services – without male consent. 

Previously, women needed a guardian's written approval before any government department could process their applications.

However, the kingdom's male guardianship system - which subjects women to full dependence on their fathers, brothers, husbands, or sometimes even sons, in nearly all aspects of public life - has received criticism over the years. 

It has also been described as a hindrance to women's progress. 

Will this be the next big shift towards Saudi Arabia's 'return to a moderate Islam'?