The meteoric rise of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MbS) reverberated round the entire Middle East and world at large. Being the favorite sixth son of King Salman, MbS rose from obscurity to global fame within short span of time. He subsequently resorted to usher his potential and demonstrated that self-aggrandizement or financial embezzlement is not his sole objective, a precedent set by other monarchs, but he really wants to steer the Kingdom towards novel trajectory. While talking to The Economist, he candidly stated that;
“My dream as a young man in Saudi Arabia, and the dreams of men in Saudi Arabia are so many, and I try to compete with them and their dreams, and they compete with mine, to create a better Saudi Arabia”.
Acting like quintessential populist messiah, Crown Prince MbS embarked upon grand rejuvenation plan of Saudi civilization, economy and defense. By granting women the long fought right to drive, he exhibited his progressive propensity.
While talking to The Atlantic, he asserted that; “I support Saudi Arabia, and half of Saudi Arabia is women. So I support women”. His economic roadmap that is “vision 2030” tends to revamp the contours of Saudi economic trajectory towards more sustainable options such as renewable energy, tourism and technology. This depicts his propensity to relinquish orthodox rules and pave way for innovation. While inaugurating the ambitious tech-city, MbS declared that; “We try to work only with the dreamers. This place is not for conventional people or companies.”
He has demonstrated his ability to learn from his mistakes instead of imitating again. For instance, after brinkmanship with Qatar, he chose the conciliatory path and prevented
collapse of GCC. This normalization of ties with Qatar also paved way for rapprochement with Ankara. The de-facto ruler`s bonhomie with Israel signifies that MBS can take daring decisions.
There are multiple shades of MBS and time will tell that which shade dominates his personality. On one hand, he is promoting modernizing and progressive image of KSA by promoting entertainment, concerts, wrestling and other mega-sporting events. He is gradually liquidating the formidable power of orthodox religious establishment by amending conservative laws. Furthermore, his enlightened discourse at international forums illustrates his earnest desire to actually divert the Kingdom towards liberal democracy.
Crown Prince MBS is most revered foreign dignitary in Pakistan. His bonhomie with Pakistani PM and financial pipeline during strenuous economic situation made him win the hearts of Pakistanis. During his visit to Pakistan in February 2019, MbS assured Prime Minister Imran Khan: “Consider me an ambassador of Pakistan in Saudi Arabia.”
It`s puerile indictment to assess that one system of governance is better than other as every country has its own indigenous dynamics. If Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under de facto ruler MBS successfully achieves economic rejuvenation concomitant with substantial societal change, then it will bode well not only for Islamic world but also for global community. While expressing his determination, MbS told New York Times, “I fear that the day I die, I am going to die without accomplishing what I have in my mind. Life is too short, and a lot of things can happen, and I am really keen to see it with my own eyes and that is why I am in a hurry.”