Mohammed Bin Salman a relatively unknown individual who was one of one among the many sons of the King Salman of Saudi Arabia was declared heir apparent to the throne in 2015, as a young leader of only 33 years of age, he could very well understand and touch the chord of young Saudis in his country, his notable reforms are appreciated worldwide.
With amplified concerns over the nearly 86-year-old King Salman’s health, Prince Mohammed, 36, is taking charge of presidential meetings and reception of dignitaries, with the king rarely making public appearances. From greeting foreign leaders to heading regional summits, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is taking over the reins from his elderly father and becoming Saudi Arabia’s uncrowned king.
While Prince Mohammed has been considered the de facto leader since his appointment as heir to the throne in June 2017, his growing prominence has never been more apparent than when he met with French President Emmanuel Macron in early December and led the Gulf Cooperation Council summit on Tuesday. King Salman, who usually heads the annual meeting after warm embraces and friendly handshakes, was a no-show.
An Indian Businessman staying in Saudi said under the condition of anonymity “On the one hand Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has made some changes to the treatment of about half of KSA’s citizens, by giving women the right to drive. There are more changes but they have tended to be cosmetic. His extra-judiciary arrest and holding to ransom dozens of Saudi billionaires gained him, or KSA, hundreds of billions. That these billionaires were treated roughly and at least one died is of no concern to MBS. Even if these billionaires had crookedly gained their fortune, there was certainly no attempt of the due process of law, which does not really exist in KSA. The action against these billionaires was corrupt because, I am sure that similar billionaires, who were friends of Mohammed bin Salman, were left untouched.”
Another critic said “Mohammed bin Salman is an arrogant upstart, who has been given governmental powers far greater than his tiny intellect can cope with, like many despots and dictators around the world and in the past. To answer the question, Mohammed bin Salman has made KSA into a worse place in which to live with minor cosmetic changes to appease those critics abroad.”
A local Saudi merchant told Afternoon Voice “The most important is the announcement of Saudi vision 2030, which is an ambitious economic plan involving mammoth investments of 200–300 trillion $ to diversify the economy of Saudi Arabia and reduce its dependence on oil whose prices issues are highly volatile and to make Saudi Arabia a hub of infrastructure and develop it into one of the most developed countries of the world. Mohammed bin Salman can do much better for Saudi Arabia because he has the will and attitude”.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, King Salman has been residing in Neom, a futuristic development on the Red Sea. His last meeting with a foreign official in Riyadh was in March 2020, when he sat down with the-UK foreign minister Dominic Raab, and his last trip abroad was to Oman to offer his condolences over the death of Sultan Qaboos in January 2020.
Prince Mohammed has sought to position himself as a champion of moderate Islam, even as his international reputation took a hit from the 2018 murder and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate. The crown prince, also known as MBS, has opened Saudi Arabia to tourists and foreign investments in an effort to diversify the economy of the world’s largest oil exporter economy away from crude.
He has overseen sweeping social changes, including allowing women to drive and work in the public sector, enabling citizens to enjoy the additional income and recreational outlets that opened up across the country. These changes have come alongside a crackdown on dissent and free speech. He even seemed more open than his father towards Israel, allowing its commercial aircraft to pass through Saudi air space.