Saudi Arabia prepares for the 21th century

In the shadow of the ongoing Gulf crisis, where several Arab countries under the leadership of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have severed their diplomatic ties to Qatar to force the little emirate to abandon its previous foreign policy, a fundamental change has taken place within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On Wednesday 21th June 2017, the 31-year-old former defensive minister and deputy crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman, was announced to be crown prince and the next king. Although it is the final step of a long development that has started two years ago, this step came as a surprise. Certainly, there has been signs like Muhammad bin Salman’s dozens of interviews with international newspapers, but such a move is a risky play at this moment of regional turmoil. As a German report in December 2015 reveals, the young inexperienced Saudi prince  is seen very critical, which is mostly because of its reckless move to start a war against the Houthis in Yemen. Internally, many are also reluctant because of its progressive mentality but also because he imposed deep pay cuts to government employees as one part of his Vision 2030.  The fact that he reversed the reduction of salary shortly after announcing it, gives only more credit to his imprudent character or image as “Saudi Arabia’s prince of chaos“.  Despite these facts, the current ruler of Saudi Arabia, King Salman, hopes that he will secure long-term security and stability for decades by installing his favourite son to be the next king. Indeed, the young prince could reign for more than half a century if he manages to gain legitimacy among the threefold fundament of power base consisting of the USA, the Saudi family and the population, which every Saudi King needs to sustain.

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