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The meteoric rise of Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Fayez Nureldine, AFP | This file photo taken on October 24, 2017, shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attending the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in Riyadh.
Text by: Owen BARNELL
2 min

In June 2017 Prince Mohammed bin Salman was appointed as heir to the Saudi throne. At only 32 he has quickly ascended to power and shown a desire to push ahead in reforming an oil-reliant economy and modernise certain cultural traditions.


Prince Mohammed began his political career in 2011 as special adviser to his father, King Salman. In 2015 he was appointed defence minister, becoming the youngest person in the world to hold that position. The Saudi military has since become involved in fighting Houthi militia in Yemen, escalating a bloody conflict that is now in its third year. A boycott of Qatar, headed by Saudi Arabia, has also seen the country flex its regional muscles, and led to increased international exposure for Prince Salman.

His appointment as heir apparent in 2017 was followed by public declarations of his intent to reform Saudi Arabia. Stagnating global oil prices have affirmed the need for a more diverse economy and Prince Salman has set out to tackle the problem with his “Vision 2030” plan, a 15-year project for economic and cultural change that aims to turn the country into an intercontinental trade hub. Prince Mohammed has also made clear his belief that economic reform will fail if not tied to cultural change. The prince has begun loosening restrictions on certain practices in Saudi Arabia, a country of strict Islamic tradition. He announced that in 2018 the ban on women driving would be lifted and has encouraged the existence of cinemas and concerts, practices that are traditionally restricted in Saudi Arabia.

Watch FRANCE 24’s video report for further insight into the meteoric rise of the young prince.

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