Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, appointed Mohammed bin Nayef Al Saud as his heir apparent on April 29, 2015. Mohammed bin Nayef Al Saud is one of the king’s nephews. On June 21, 2017, however, the King issued a royal decree, deposing the crown prince and relieving him of all his positions. The decree also named the new crown prince, the King’s own son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
It’s another leadership shake up in the biggest economy in the Middle East and the top oil exporter in the world. Saudi Arabia is the biggest member of the oil-exporting group, OPEC, and plays a major role in controlling oil production and prices.
The royal family has been trying to make radical changes to the Kingdom. Analysts say that this latest shakeup could boost the efforts toward economic reform within the country. It is not seen to have any effect on the country’s oil policy. This is what John Sfakianakis predicts. He said it will still be business as usual in the Kingdom and Saudi Arabia will still be an OPEC leader. Sfakianakis is with the Gulf Research Center located in Riyadh, where he acts as the director of economic research.
The new crown prince, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is only 31 years old, believes that his country’s continued dependence on oil is an addiction. The young prince leads Vision 2030, an economic reform plan. The detailed plan envisions the growth of the private sector and the diversification of Saudi Arabia’s economy.
A young leader for a young workforce
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud will have to focus on creating jobs for Saudi’s young population, 60% of which are under 30 years of age. Among the unemployed in Saudi Arabia, this younger generation accounts for about 12%. It’s estimated that about 400,000 young people enter the country’s workforce annually.
According to the president of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, Salman Al-Ansari, the appointment of the new crown prince places the country in a better position to cater to the increasing needs of the country’s youth. He thinks that the prince is better qualified to meet the demands of the demographic group where he also belongs.
Included in Vision 2030 are plans to increase the number of women in the workforce by 30% and lower unemployment to just 7% by year 2030. The King has already ordered the country’s laws that prevent women from entering university without approval from a spouse or male relative, as well as those that prevent them from undergoing medical procedures, travel or work. It seems that the ban on women driving will soon be lifted, according to analysts.
Who is Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud
He was born in Jeddah on August 31, 1985. He is the world’s youngest defense minister, a position that he will continue to hold. He will also become the Deputy Prime Minister. With his appointment, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is now the second most powerful person in Saudi Arabia and will become the Kingdom’s youngest king should his father, who’s already 81 and frail, dies.
Together with the announcement that he is the new heir apparent, King Salman ordered that all allowances and benefits of government employees that were reduced due to austerity measures to be reinstated. Additional days off will also be granted for the celebration of Eid al-Fitr that marks Ramadan’s end.
The Crown Prince is a bold reformist, socially liberal and the new face of Saudi Arabia, who has embraced media attention willingly.
He thinks that selling part of Aramco will help his country’s economy. Officials in Saudi Arabia think that Aramco’s value is about $2 trillion while analysts place it at $1.4 trillion. Even selling 5% of it is equivalent to $70 billion to $100 billion, which the Crown Prince thinks can be used in different areas of the economy.