Meet the 31-year-old Saudi prince who rose to power nearly overnight

On Wednesday, the king of Saudi Arabia unexpectedly named one of his younger sons the country’s new crown prince.

The sudden move sent waves of surprise throughout the Middle East and Saudi Arabia, which has been ruled by autocratic, older men for decades.

During his time as the country’s defense minister, Mohammed bin Salman, 31, became known for both shaking up some of the country’s officials and picking up his father’s conservative, aggressive stances for countries such as Iran, Qatar, and Yemen.

Here’s what we know about the life of the Saudi royal who rose to one of the most powerful posts in Saudi Arabia overnight.


On June 21, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman appointed his 31-year-old son as the kingdom’s new crown prince. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will replace his cousin, who is 26 years older.

Source: Business Insider


Salman is the first child of the current Saudi King’s third marriage. Salman is one of 13 children, and grew up without drawing much attention to himself.

Source: The New York Times


After finishing a law degree at King Saud university, Salman worked as an adviser to his father and took on several official roles.

Source: The New York Times


Before being named crown prince, he worked as the country’s defense minister and oversaw the country’s economic reform.

Source: Al Jazeera


In the last five years, Salman became known from steering Saudi Arabia from relying on oil as its primary source of wealth.

Source: Business Insider


He also led Saudi Arabia’s intervention in the Yemeni uprising, which has resulted in considerable civilian deaths and exacerbated poverty and hunger in the country.

Source: Al Jazeera


Salman has close ties to US President Donald Trump, who also takes a strong stance against Iran.

Source: Al Jazeera


Salman has accused Iran of spreading Shia ideology and trying “to control the Islamic world.”

Source: Al Jazeera


“The rise of Mohammed bin Salman will likely mean even more hawkish foreign policy moves from Saudi Arabia and more intensified efforts to confront Iran,” said Helima Croft, Global Head of Commodity Strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

Source: Business Insider


Domestically, Salman frequently talks about improving Saudi Arabia’s health, education and housing system — and has, before his ascent, replaced older officials with younger, western-educated ones.

Source: BBC


Despite his position in Saudi Arabia’s regime, Salman is popular at home as a younger and, due to his frequent media appearances, more down-to-earth prince.

Source: BBC


In Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s last true monarchies, Salman will have almost limitless power, which means only he can decide if his rule will provide progress for the kingdom.

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Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a graduation ceremony and air show marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of King Faisal Air College in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 25, 2017.
source
REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser