Profile: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

A Saudi student takes a selfie with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
Updated 22 June 2017

Profile: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

RIYADH: Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday was elevated to the position of crown prince and deputy prime minister, and will maintain his post as minister of defense.
Born on Aug. 31, 1985, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the son of King Salman, received his education at Riyadh schools where he ranked among the top 10 students in his class. He received his bachelor’s degree in law from King Saud University (KSU), where he graduated second in his class.
Prince Mohammed gained international experience in corporate governance and international finance. He began his political career as a consultant to the Experts Commission under the Saudi Cabinet.
On Dec. 15, 2009, Prince Mohammed bin Salman was appointed special adviser to then-Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, who at the time was governor of Riyadh province.
He was also a special adviser to the chairman of the board for the King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives (Darah), and then became supervisor of the crown prince’s office.
In March 2013, by royal decree, Prince Mohammed was appointed head of the crown prince’s court with the rank of minister and special adviser to then-Crown Prince Salman. On April 25, 2014, he was appointed as a state minister and member of the Cabinet.
His long history of philanthropic initiatives earned him many awards. In 2011, he established the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation (MiSK), which enables young Saudis to learn, develop and progress in the fields of business, literature, culture, science and technology, and sociology.
Following the demise of King Abdullah in 2015, King Salman ascended to the throne and appointed Prince Mohammed as deputy crown prince, second deputy premier and minister of defense. He has also served as chief of the Royal Court, and chairs the powerful Council for Economic and Development Affairs.
Last year, the crown prince moved into what he described as his most important role: Transforming the Kingdom’s economy and reducing its dependence on oil revenues.
On April 25, 2016, the Saudi government unveiled Vision 2030, including a series of developmental, economic and social programs. The same day, Al Arabiya News Channel aired an exclusive interview with Prince Mohammed. During the interview, the crown prince pledged to end the Saudi economy’s dependence on oil revenues by 2020. Prince Mohammed also discussed measures to lift subsidies on the Kingdom’s wealthy citizens and assist the country’s poor.
The measures, as part of Vision 2030, will be implemented on everyone, “including princes and government ministers,” Prince Mohammed said. “This is a promise.”
In an interview with prominent news outlet Bloomberg earlier in April 2016, Prince Mohammed discussed the Kingdom’s soon-to-be unveiled National Transformation Plan (NTP) 2020, part of Vision 2030.
At the time, he told Bloomberg that the Kingdom would dramatically expand its Public Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund, to reach around $2 trillion in assets. The sale of around 5 percent of Saudi Aramco’s shares would be placed into the fund, he added. “What is left now is to diversify investments,” he said. “So, within 20 years, we will be an economy or state that doesn’t depend mainly on oil.”
In a second, even longer interview with Bloomberg later that month, Prince Mohammed further expanded on his plans to transform the Kingdom’s economy. The interview also highlighted the prince’s personal life — his long hours, fluency in English, love of reading books by Sun Tzu and Winston Churchill, and his choice to have just one wife.
The crown prince has represented King Salman abroad, traveling to Beijing, Moscow and Washington, where he met President Donald Trump in March.
In an interview with Al Arabiya, former US President Barack Obama described him as “extremely knowledgeable, very smart” and “wise beyond his years.”
Last year, Prince Mohammed visited Silicon Valley to sell his vision of market-oriented reforms and a transformation of the Kingdom’s economy and society.
In recent years, Prince Mohammed has become the government’s face of reform, modernization and change. In the Kingdom, where around 60 percent of the population is under 30, the young crown prince is widely seen as an icon in the push toward socio-economic reforms.

Saudi Arabia ends gender segregation in restaurants 

Updated 09 December 2019

Saudi Arabia ends gender segregation in restaurants 

RIYADH/MAKKAH: The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has ended the requirement for restaurants to have separate sections for males and families.

Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi, the department’s minister-designate, also approved other updates to rules and regulations in different sectors on Sunday.

Dr. Khaled Al-Jammaz, undersecretary-designate for technical affairs at the ministry, explained that the move was part of a number of amendments that included 103 regulations, requirements, manuals, models, standards and applications for activities of all kinds.

Makkah Mayor Mohammed Abdullah Al-Quwaihis told Arab News that the amendments aimed to make life easier for investors, citizens and entrepreneurs.

“They will be positive and will ease many conditions and restrictions, but they will not affect the core of the work in terms of public health and food, and this decision will increase the flow of investment and the number and variety of restaurants,” he said.

Nasser Al-Shalhoub, one of the owners of the soon-to-be opened Chaoua coffee shop, said that ending the requirement to have separate sections for males and families was an excellent decision — “especially since we are facing a problem with increasing costs because we are obligated to make two counters for the two sections, and now with this amendment the ministry has helped us to start working and reduce costs.”

A good designer can provide clever solutions to offer privacy for customers in different ways; it doesn’t have to be by blocking the place with big walls.

Abdulrahman Al-Harbi, An architect

“This will benefit us because we will take advantage of the space, and the area will look better,” he said.

Abdulrahman Al-Harbi, an architect, said: “A good designer can provide clever solutions to offer privacy for customers in different ways; it doesn’t have to be by blocking the place with big walls,” Al-Harbi said.

Ruba Al-Harbi, who manages a restaurant and owns the Snapchat lifestyle account @Tasteandtell, also agrees with the amendment. “It’s a waste of money to open two sections for males and families because this segregation will do nothing when both sides meet outside the restaurant’s doors.” She said that she had noticed the change a while ago, even before it was announced on the ministry’s website.

“I have entered several restaurants that had only one section and it was fine to sit and eat there.”

Al-Harbi said that were many issues when restaurants were divided. “Family sections are usually crowded. You often can’t find a place to sit while male sections are always empty because they don’t go to restaurants as much as females,” she said. 

Dareen Rajeh, a compliance analyst, said that many people in Saudi Arabia needed to get used to the existence of both sexes in the same place without becoming confused or uncomfortable. “We need to open our horizons and focus on more important issues.”