I’d really like to see a definition of Arab liberalism emerge to decide where many thought leaders we have today would fit in. The label itself appears to have been tainted, perhaps reformist would fit the regional mindset. We need a label to represent a cohesive set of values that promote Islam within a national framework, if that is even possible. Reform appears to be our last resort.
The global outlook was ripe for change with the industrial revolution, especially in the Arab world. Now more than ever, polarization is the cultural tendency of the masses. The risk of alienating the population or pushing conservative blocs towards more religiously compatible local/foreign ideological spheres is not a matter to be taken lightly.
The liberal ideology seems to have failed at appearing aligned with conservative Islam, as well as Ultra-national ideology in the matters that count the most, for the reasons you referred to above. Reformists however seem to be on the rise, the label itself is not a source of threat to ideologies either. That could rise from the fact it doesn’t have enough charismatic figures like Mohammed bin Salman behind it, but that’s easily resolvable.
The problem it seems, as always, lies with the reliance of modern day Arab politics on autocratic driven political systems incapable of producing a self sufficient supply of diverse political leaders to fall back on during times of ideological turbulence, along with a rejection of effective support of civil society to go through the necessary phases of maturity to start producing it’s own thought leaders who can actually speak without having to hold a backup foreign nationality as insurance against persecution.