Dubai: When the authorities in Kuwait in 2012 cancelled Al Nahdha (Awakening) Forum conference, the main concerns were that it was engaged in suspicious schemes and featured controversial radical speakers.

The forum — ostensibly established in 2010 to help young men and women develop their understanding of Islamic values and to enhance their skills in communicating them — included young people who were in fact being used as a nucleus of groups to be prepared for toppling regimes in Arab countries.

The man behind it is Salman Al Awda, a Saudi religious figure with a large number of followers, and the country that funded and promoted it is Qatar, a Saudi report said.

The forum, conceived as an annual event to bring together around young men and women from the Gulf, held its first conference in Bahrain in 2010 and the second in Qatar in 2011.

The third conference was scheduled in Kuwait, but was cancelled one day before the opening after lawmakers became angry and staunchly rejected it on seeing the list of the speakers.

At the same time, 36 Saudi religious figures criticised the forum, describing it as a gathering for people who opposed and targeted Saudi Arabia.

Saudi media also criticised the forum, saying that it was a Muslim Brotherhood project that merged with Al Nahdha set up by Jassem Sultan, a Qatari national, with the support of the Qatari government.

Reports said that Al Nahdha Forum sought to create chaos within the Gulf societies, incite citizens against their rulers and undermine their mutual trust.

The forum was also seen as the link between the figures tasked with inciting sedition and sowing divisions in the Gulf countries.

It was also closely associated with some of the names associated with the so-called Arab Spring in Egypt, Syria and Yemen.

The first conferences featured talks and lectures by academicians and religious figures who in some cases had strong links with the Muslim Brotherhood. They included Salman Al Awda, Mustafa Al Hassan, Mohammad Hamed Al Ahmari, Jassem Sultan and Tariq Al Mubarak.

Several observers said the forum was in fact another arm used to topple the political regimes in the Gulf and across the Arab world.

Al Awda, who holds the position of deputy secretary general of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, an organisation banned in Saudi Arabia and several other Arab countries, is currently facing trial in Riyadh in which the public prosecutor sought the death penalty after presenting 37 charges against him.

He is accused of associating with personalities and organisations and holding meetings and conferences in Saudi Arabia and abroad, in order to achieve the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood against Saudi Arabia and its rulers.

The Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries and Egypt where it is listed as a terror organisation.

Other charges levelled against Al Awda included repeated attempts to destabilise the nation, revive sedition, incite the community against the rulers, and provoke unrest.

Al Awda was arrested last year alongside other figures in what was known as the intelligence cell case.