Saudi intellectuals and religious experts began talks yesterday aimed at identifying the causes of religious extremism in the kingdom that has been rocked by a spate of deadly militant attacks.
The meeting is seen as an attempt by the kingdom to deal with the roots of the recent violence which has killed at least 50 people and which is believed to be linked to Saudi-born Osama bin Laden's Al Qaida network.
"Our national dialogue is a way to return to our development track," said Sheikh Saleh bin Abdul Rahman Al Hassein, head of the five-day conference entitled Exaggeration and Moderation: A Methodological Comprehensive Vision.
The forum, organised by the King Abdul Aziz Centre for National Dialogue, will examine 15 academic papers discussing "the characteristics of the extremist personality, the problem of (Islamist) exaggeration and Saudi media," the statement said.
The meeting, in Makkah, includes 10 women among the more than 60 academics and pundits.
Meanwhile the official Saudi Press Agency said the authorities had arrested more than 4,000 people and seized large quantities of weapons and drugs in Najran province along the border with Yemen.