The Crown Prince of Saudia Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is widely considered to be the most influential and powerful member of the Saudi Royal Family – as well as its defacto ruler. He is the favoured son of his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the current monarch who succeed his brother King Abdullah in 2015.
The ambitious Prince began his political career at the young age of 20 years old, back in 2007, when he gained his first position as the full-time adviser to the Council of Ministers. He slowly progressed up the political ladder, getting a promotion to special advisor to the Governor of Riyadh in 2009, which at the time was his father, Salman bin Abdulaziz. The young Prince married in 2008 to his first cousin, Sara bint Mashoor bin Abdulaziz al Saud, they have four children together.
Following his father’s succession to the throne in 2015, Mohammed bin Salman’s career took off. He was appointed Minister of Defence, then Deputy Prime Minister, then Crown Prince, which is considered to be the number two spot within the Saudi Royal Family. One of his first tasks during his time at the MoD was to wage an air warfare campaign against the Houthi rebels. This was designed to be a brief campaign but has been a protracted conflict now lasting over 3 years.
MBS as the Prince is often referred to in the west, is regarded as a bright mind in matters of political strategy and economics. He is considered to be the unofficial ruler of the Kingdom, as his father is 82 years old and unable to carry out many duties. It is almost a certainty that he will ascend to the throne when his father dies, he has consolidated his power base and eliminated many of his rivals and critics. He has also led a revolution of modernisation in the Kingdom, as well as pushing for the Royal Family to move away from their oil dependancy and diversify their wealth. A big part of this has been the PIF, Public Investment Fund, which is a sovereign wealth fund setup by MBS and has been investing in broad array of industries outside of fossil fuels. MBS has also contributed largely to women’s rights in Saudi Arabia – including introducing the right of women to drive cars.
Mohammed Bin Salman has encountered recent controversy over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi born journalist was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. It is widely regarded that the assassination was ordered by the Crown Prince, who is quoted as saying he wish to “put a bullet in him” a year before the murder. The assassination squad were reportedly ordered by MBS to carry out the killing, although this is denied by the Saudi Royal Family.
This has no doubt had a negative impact on the Crown Prince’s reputation, but it is unlikely to deter governments and businesses from doing dealings with the Saudi Royals. Donald Trump stated that he saw no reason why the murder should affect relations between the US and KSA – and many other leaders, while less vocal, have no issue regarding the incident.
The Prince has a considerable net worth, which is estimated at well over $3 Billion USD. He lives a lifestyle in keeping with his position and wealth, and owns a home in Versailles worth over $300 Million dollars. MBS also owns a number of luxury yachts and private jets, his main two yachts are the Pegasus VIII and the Serene.