Mohammad bin Salman

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Mohammad bin Salman
Mohammed Bin Salman al-Saud.jpg
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
First Deputy Prime Minister
Reign 21 June 2017 – present
Predecessor Muhammad bin Nayef
Monarch Salman
Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
Second deputy prime minister
In office 29 April 2015 – 21 June 2017
Predecessor Muhammad bin Nayef
Successor None
Monarch Salman
Minister of defense
Reign 23 January 2015 – present
Predecessor Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Monarch Salman
Chief of the Royal Court
Reign Riyadh
Predecessor Khaled al-Tuwaijri
Monarch Salman
Head of the Crown Prince Court
Reign 14 January 2013 – 23 January 2015
Predecessor Saud bin Nayef
Monarch Abdullah
Born (1985-08-31) 31 August 1985 (age 31)
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Spouse Sara bint Mashoor bin Abdulaziz Al Saud[1]
Full name
Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
House House of Saud
Father Salman
Mother Fahda bint Falah bin Sultan bin Hathleen

Wahhabi Hanbali Sunni Islam of the Ashaarite school

Personal details
Education Bachelor degree in law
King Saud University

Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud (Arabic: محمد بن سلمان بن عبد العزيز آل سعود‎‎; born 31 August 1985) is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, First Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia[2] and the youngest minister of defense in the world.[3] Mohammad is also chief of the House of Saud royal court, and chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs. He has been described as the power behind the throne of his father, King Salman.[4] He was appointed Crown Prince in June 2017 following his father's decision to depose Muhammad bin Nayef of all positions, making him heir apparent to the throne.[5][6][7]

Early life[edit]

Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud was born on 31 August 1985 in Jeddah.[8][note 1] He is the son of King Salman from his third spouse,[10] Fahda bint Falah bin Sultan bin Hathleen.[1] She is the granddaughter of Rakan bin Hithalayn, who was the head of the Al Ajman tribe.[11]

Prince Mohammad is the eldest of his full siblings[10] and is the brother of Turki bin Salman, former chairman of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group.[12] Prince Mohammad holds a bachelor degree in law from King Saud University.[13]


After graduating from college, Mohammad bin Salman spent several years in the private sector before becoming the personal aide of his father. He worked as a consultant for the Experts Commission, working for the Saudi Cabinet.[14]

On 15 December 2009, Mohammad bin Salman entered politics as a special advisor to his father when the latter was the governor of Riyadh Province.[15] At this time, the prince began to collect titles and sinecure positions such as secretary-general of the Riyadh Competitive Council, special advisor to the chairman of the board for the King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives, and a member of the board of trustees for Albir Society in the Riyadh region.[16]

In October 2011, Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz died, and the current King Salman began his ascent to power by becoming second deputy prime minister and defense minister in November 2011 and making Mohammad bin Salman his private advisor.[17]

Chief of the Court[edit]

In June 2012, Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud died and Prince Mohammad moved up into the number two position in the hierarchy, as his father became the new crown prince and first deputy prime minister. He soon began remaking the court in his own image. On 2 March 2013, the chief of the Crown Prince court Prince Saud bin Nayef was appointed governor of the Eastern Province and Prince Mohammad succeeded him in the post. He was also given the rank of minister.[18][19][20] On 25 April 2014 Prince Mohammad was appointed state minister.[16]

Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince[edit]

Prince Mohammad with United States Secretary of State John Kerry, 7 May 2015
Prince Mohammad with Russian President Vladimir Putin, 18 June 2015
United States Defense Secretary Ash Carter welcomes Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud to the Pentagon, 13 May 2015
Prince with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, 16 March 2017

On 23 January 2015, King Abdullah died, Salman took the throne and Prince Mohammad was appointed minister of defense.[21] He was also named as the secretary general of the Royal Court on the same date.[22] In addition he retained his post as the minister of the state.[23][24] Such concentration of power in the hands of Mohammad bin Salman has angered many of his relatives.[25][26]

The first major event in his tenure as defense minister was Operation Decisive Storm, part of the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen, an operation against Houthi rebels in Yemen, experiencing the 2015 Yemeni Civil War.[27] Prince bin Salman launched the invasion in March 2015, without fully coordinating across security services, and without informing Saudi National Guard Minister Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, who was out of the country.[28] During the campaign Prince bin Salman went on vacation in the Maldives, where United States Secretary of Defense Ash Carter had trouble reaching him for days.[28] According to the UN and human rights groups, direct war crimes were committed during the conflict including a major bombing campaign accused of killing thousands of civilians.[25][29][30][31] So far, the war has already cost the kingdom tens of billions of dollars and destroyed much of Yemen's infrastructures but failed to dislodge the Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies from the Yemeni capital.[26][32][33] While Prince Mohammad sold the war as a quick win on Houthi rebels in Yemen and a way to put Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back in power, however, it became a long war of attrition.[34]

In Syria, in early 2015, Saudi Arabia supported the creation of The Army of Conquest mainly made up of the Al-Qaeda affiliate – Al-Nusra Front – and the ideologically similar Aurar al-Sham.[35][34]

In April 2015, King Salman shocked the royal family by changing the old order and replacing designated successors by new ones. Mohammed bin Nayef and Prince Mohammad respectively became Crown Prince and Deputy Crown Prince.[32]

In late 2015, Prince bin Salman attended a meeting between King Salman and U.S. President Barack Obama, where the prince broke protocol to deliver a monologue criticizing U.S. foreign policy.[28] He also broke protocol when U.S. ambassador to Riyadh, Joseph Westphal, went to Jiddah to meet Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef but was instead told the deputy crown prince wanted to see him urgently.[36] In addition, when Prince bin Salman announced an anti-terrorist military alliance of Islamic countries in December 2015, some of the countries involved said they had not been consulted.[28]

On 4 January 2016, Prince Mohammad gave his first on-the-record interview, while talking to The Economist.[37]

On 10 January 2016, The Independent reported that "the BND, the German intelligence agency...portrayed Saudi defence minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin a political gambler who is destabilising the Arab world through proxy wars in Yemen and Syria."[32][34][35][38]

As defence minister, Prince Mohammad has been heavily involved in the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen. According to the New York Times: "The prosecution of the war by a prince with no military experience has exacerbated tensions between him and his older cousins, according to American officials and members of the royal family. Three of Saudi Arabia's main security services are run by princes. Although all agreed that the kingdom had to respond when the Houthis seized the Yemeni capital and forced the government into exile, Prince bin Salman took the lead, launching the war in March 2015 without full coordination across the security services. The head of the National Guard, Mutaib bin Abdullah, had not been informed and was out of the country when the first strikes were carried out, according to a senior National Guard officer. American officials, too, were put off when, just as the Yemen campaign was escalating, Prince bin Salman took a vacation in the Maldives, the island archipelago off the coast of India. Several American officials said Defense Secretary Ash Carter had trouble reaching him for days during one part of the trip."[39]

Crown Prince[edit]

Mohammad bin Salman was appointed Crown Prince on 21 June 2017, following his father's decision to depose Muhammad bin Nayef, making him heir apparent to the throne.[40][41] He is the first Crown Prince that is also the son of the current reigning monarch.[citation needed] The change of succession had been predicted in December 2015 by an unusually blunt and public memo published by the German Federal Intelligence Service,[42][43] for which it was subsequently rebuked by the German government.[44] On the day he became Crown Prince, U.S. President Donald Trump called Mohammed bin Salman to "congratulate him on his recent elevation". Trump and the new crown prince pledged "close cooperation" on security and economic issues, according to the White House, and two leaders also discussed the need to cut off support for terrorism, the recent diplomatic dispute with Qatar, and the push to secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians.[45] Mohammad bin Salman told the Washington Post in April 2017 that without America's cultural influence on Saudi Arabia, "we would have ended up like North Korea."[46]

Political and economic reforms[edit]

On 29 January 2015, Prince Mohammad was named the chair of the newly established Council for Economic and Development Affairs,[47] replacing the disbanded Supreme Economic Commission.[47] Prince bin Salman was given control over Saudi Aramco by royal decree 48 hours after being appointed deputy crown prince.[48]

Prince bin Salman's stated concern in 2015–2016 was to reform Saudi's economy towards a more diversified and privatized structure. His reform blueprint, "Vision 2030",[49] details goals and measures in various fields, from developing non-oil revenues and privatization of the economy to e-government and sustainable development.[50] In an interview with Al arabia he also shared his idea for "Green cards" for non-Saudi foreigners.[51]

Prince Mohammad bin Salman's biggest bet was his plan to restore the Saudi kingdom's dominance in global oil markets by driving the new competition into bankruptcy, by keeping the oil price low enough for a long enough period. Saudi Arabia persuaded OPEC to do the same. A few small players went bankrupt, but American frackers only shut down their less-profitable operations temporarily, and waited for oil prices to go up again. However, Saudi Arabia, which had been spending $100 billion a year to keep services and subsidies going, had to admit its defeat in November 2016. It then cut production significantly and asked its OPEC partners to do the same.[34]

Prince bin Salman has successfully lobbied for regulations restricting the powers of the religious police.[28] Prince bin Salman established an entertainment authority that has hosted comedy shows, pro wrestling events, and monster truck rallies.[28] A few hours after spotting a 440-foot luxury yacht, the Serene, in 2015, Prince bin Salman purchased it from Stolichnaya owner Yuri Scheffler for 500 million euros.[28] In 2016 Prince Mohammad was technically the country's No. 3 official and able to act in the name of his father, King Salman, who suffers from mild dementia.[52]

The first measures undertaken in April 2016 included new taxes and cuts in subsidies, a diversification plan, the creation of a $2 trillion Saudi sovereign wealth fund, and a series of strategic economic reforms called the National Transformation Programme.[53] Prince bin Salman plans to raise capital for the sovereign wealth fund by selling off shares of Saudi Aramco.[48]

Prince Mohammad bin Salman slashed the state budget, freezing government contracts and reducing the pay of civil employees as part of drastic austerity measures. Within hours of doing so, he bought the Serene.[26][34]


Mohammad bin Salman established himself as the chairman of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Foundation, otherwise known as MiSK, which aims to help disadvantaged youth.[23] The foundation was a partner of the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum for Change in 2015.[54] The foundation focuses on the country's youth and provides different means of fostering talent, creative potential, and innovation in a healthy environment that offers opportunities in arts and sciences. The foundation pursues these goals by establishing programs and partnering with local and global organizations. It intends to develop intellectual capability in youth, as well as unlock the potential of all Saudi people.[55] Saudi journalists traveling with Prince Mohammed on foreign delegations have been paid up to $100,000 in cash.[28]


On 24 September 2015, over 2,000 Hajj pilgrims were killed in the 2015 Mina stampede.[56] Sources claim this was due to attempts by the personal convoy of Mohammed bin Salman to force itself through the crowd, as well as several road closures in the area.[57]

In the beginning of 2016, Prince Mohammad bin Salman inflamed tensions with Iran by approving the execution of popular Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Iran's Shia population replied by setting fire to the Saudi Arabia embassy in Tehran. Since then, the two countries have cut off diplomatic ties.[33][38][58][59] This execution came together with the execution of 46 people, mostly Sunni jihadis or dissenters.[32][35]

Personal life[edit]

Mohammed bin Salman has a lavish lifestyle. One incident which illustrates this is his spur-of-the-moment purchase of the Italian-built and Bermuda-registered yacht Serene from Russian vodka tycoon Yuri Scheffler, for a price of €500 million reported by the New York Times magazine.[36][60]

Mohammad has travelled extensively around the world, meeting with politicians, business leaders and celebrities.[60] In June 2016, he travelled to Silicon Valley and met key people in the US high tech industry, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.[61]



  1. ^ No official birthdate exists, but a Saudi newspaper article quotes him in 2001 as a student from grade 10.[9][contradictory]


  1. ^ a b "Profile: Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman". 
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  3. ^ "Mohammed bin Nayef kingpin in new Saudi Arabia: country experts". Middle East Eye. 1 February 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  4. ^ Transcript: Interview with Muhammad bin Salman The Economist, 6 January 2016.
  5. ^ CNN, Nicole Chavez, Tamara Qiblawi and James Griffiths. "Saudi Arabia's king replaces nephew with son as heir to throne". CNN. 
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  30. ^ MacAskill, Ewen (27 January 2016). "UN report into Saudi-led strikes in Yemen raises questions over UK role". The Guardian. 
  31. ^ "Airstrikes hit Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Yemen". The Guardian. 27 October 2015.
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  61. ^ Saudi’s Deputy Crown Prince meets Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg Al Arabiya. 22 June 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  62. ^ "Royal Family Directory". Retrieved 22 June 2017. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Prince Muhammad bin Nayef
First Deputy Prime Minister
21 June 2017 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Prince Muhammad bin Nayef
Second Deputy Prime Minister
29 April 2015 – 21 June 2017
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Minister of Defence
23 January 2015–present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Khaled al-Tuwaijri
Chief of the Royal Court
23 January 2015–present
Succeeded by
Saudi Arabian royalty
Preceded by
Prince Muhammad bin Nayef
Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
29 April 2015 – 21 June 2017
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Prince Muhammad bin Nayef
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
21 June 2017 – present
Succeeded by