Who is Saudi royal Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud?

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Who is Saudi royal Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud?

Mohammed bin SalmanMohammed bin Salman

The 34-year-old heir will ascend to the throne after the death of his father, 83-year-old King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
AP Photo/Francois Mori


Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud, known as MBS, is the future king of Saudi Arabia.

The 34-year-old heir will ascend to the throne after the death of his father, 83-year-old King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. 

Prince Mohammed is known for his lavish spending. He has bought a $500 million yacht, a $300 million French chateau, and a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting. According to one estimate, the Saudi royal family — which has about 15,000 members — is worth up to $1.4 trillion.

The royal family’s empire includes Saudi Aramco, the massive, state-owned oil company that just went public and is now valued at a record-breaking $2 trillion, making it the most valuable company in the world.

The crown prince has become a controversial global political figure, particularly in the fall of 2018, when he faced global outcry over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who the CIA later concluded was assassinated on the prince’s orders

Here’s a look at the lavish — and controversial — lifestyle of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The prince has a bachelor’s degree in law from King Saud University, the oldest university in Saudi Arabia.

King Saud University


Public Domain


After graduating, he worked for several state agencies before being appointed as a special adviser to his father in 2009, who was serving as governor of Riyadh at the time.

In 2012, Prince Mohammed’s father was named crown prince after the death of Nayef bin Abdul Aziz. Three years later, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz died and the prince’s father took the throne at the age of 79.

Prince Mohammed is not yet king, but he “essentially runs the country for his father,” 83-year-old King Salman bin Abdulaziz, according to Bloomberg.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman waves as he meets with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Reuters/Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court


The prince is known to be a “workaholic” who spends 18 hours of the day in his office, according to The Guardian.

But he reportedly doesn’t take criticism well.

“People who tried to say no even gently and diplomatically faced consequences,” one source from Saudi Arabia told The Guardian.

The Saudi royal family’s empire includes Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil giant that just went public and now has a record-high valuation of $2 trillion.

FILE PHOTO: The Saudi Aramco logo pictured at the company's oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, October 12, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

A Saudi Aramco sign at the company’s Abqaiq oil plant.
Reuters


That makes it the most valuable company in the world, outstripping the market capitalizations of the biggest US giants, including Microsoft, Apple, and Google’s parent, Alphabet.

It’s worth more than Berkshire Hathaway, Facebook, and Amazon combined. 

Saudi officials had been seeking a valuation of $2 trillion for the company, but most banks had pegged their initial estimates much lower, Bloomberg reported.

Aramco announced revenue of $68 billion in the first nine months of 2019, making it the most profitable company in the world.

In the fall of 2018, the crown prince faced global outcry over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.

FILE PHOTO: A demonstrator holds a poster with a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal -/File Photo

A demonstrator holds a poster with a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul.
Reuters


In November 2018, the CIA concluded the journalist was assassinated on the prince’s orders.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied that the crown prince had any role in Khashoggi’s death.

The Saudis denied for weeks that Khashoggi had been killed and repeatedly changed their story. The kingdom later announced that 18 people had been arrested in connection with the killing and said in January 2019 that prosecutors would be seeking the death penalty for five suspects.

At the G20 Summit in Argentina in December 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin was seen enthusiastically greeting the Saudi prince.

prince mohammed vladimir putin

Prince Mohammed and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in December 2018.
Kyodo News via Getty Images


Putin’s enthusiastic greeting of the Saudi prince at G20 came right after other world leaders had condemned Saudi Arabia for the killing of Khashoggi.

Other world leaders appeared to ignore the crown prince in a group photo at the summit.

Beyond politics, the prince has ties to top US technology companies and has toured some of Silicon Valley’s top firms, including Google and Apple.

prince mohammed google

Google CEO Sundar Pichai (left), Prince Mohammed (center), and Google co-founder Sergey Brin (right).
Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS


In the spring of 2018, Prince Mohammed met with Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

His west coast tour also included a stop in Seattle to meet with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund owns 5% of Uber, according to the ride-sharing company’s most recent S-1 filing. The fund is also a top investor in Softbank’s massive Vision Fund, which owns 16% of Uber as well as sizable stakes in companies like Slack, WeWork, and DoorDash.

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