King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud has changed his pick for a successor, naming his son Prince Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince and deposing Prince Mohammed bin Naif from the post. At 31, Saudi Arabia’s new successor to the throne is 50 years younger than the current monarch.
Prince Mohammed bin Naif, 57, had served as crown prince since 2015, taking the post shortly after King Salman, his uncle, was crowned. He has also been Saudi Arabia’s interior minister — another job that will now be filled by Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
According to the royal order making the change, the Saudi Allegiance Commission overwhelmingly approved Prince Mohammed bin Salman becoming Salman’s heir, by a vote of 31-3. But the abrupt move has come as a surprise to many: When Prince Mohammed bin Naif became crown prince two years ago, he was the first member of his generation to rise to the top of the royal family. Now, it seems, his generation may be skipped altogether.
The new crown prince has amassed a number of responsibilities and powers, and while he’s known for his economic and social ideas to modernize the kingdom, he has also served as the Saudi defense minister during the kingdom’s military intervention in Yemen.
“He symbolizes the hopes of a youthful local population, more than half of which is under 25,” Gulf News reports. The site adds that because the king’s son has acquired such a wide portfolio, diplomats nicknamed him “Mr. Everything.”
A public pledge of allegiance to the new crown prince is scheduled for Wednesday evening; in a video that was posted shortly after the change was announced, the two princes are seen greeting one another and exchanging pleasantries.
“The shakeup in the Saudi line of succession comes as the kingdom and other Gulf Arab states continue a feud with Qatar that has seen borders close and trade shipments halted,” NPR’s Peter Kenyon reports for our Newscast unit. “The U.S. State Department appears to be losing patience with the Saudis and their allies, demanding that they reveal their list of grievances against Qatar.”
Prince Mohammed bin Salman has already met several world leaders. He visited President Trump at the White House in March and hosted U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May in Riyadh in April. In May, he visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
Of the new crown prince’s personal life, Gulf News reports, “A law graduate from Riyadh’s King Saud University, the dark-bearded prince with a receding hairline is the father of two boys and two girls and has married only once.”
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.