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In profile: Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s ambitious face of reform

The Crown Prince’s visit to Pakistan is significant in the sense that he is seen as a symbol of reform in Saudi Arabia.
Updated Feb 19, 2019 01:30pm

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Pakistan on Sunday at the start of a three-nation diplomatic tour aimed at bolstering relations with major regional allies.

The two-day Pakistan visit will culminate in the two countries signing megadeals in fields ranging from energy to property, which will give a much-needed boost to the country’s economy, while bringing more stability to the nation.

Explore: 'Pakistan will be a very important country in coming future,' says Saudi crown prince

The Crown Prince’s visit is also significant in the sense that he is seen as a symbol of reform in Saudi Arabia, a country that has witnessed some major modernisation initiatives over the past two years, including a large-scale crackdown on corruption, opening of cinemas, lifting of the ban on women drivers and allowing women to watch public sporting events.

The Crown Prince also energised the economic landscape of the Kingdom with the announcement of some megaprojects such as NEOM, Qiddiya and the Red Sea Development that attracted significant foreign investment.

Background

MBS was born in 1985 to King Salman and his third wife, Fahda bint Falah. He is the direct descendant of the influential Sudairi tribe, and holds a bachelor’s degree in law from King Saud University.

He became the Minister of Defence and Secretary General of the Royal Court at the age of 30, which earned him the distinction of being the youngest defence minister in the world.

Four days after being appointed defence minister, he was named Chair of the newly-established Council for Economic and Development Affairs.

As Defence Minister, he helped the Kingdom forge strong relations with the West. He also formed an Islamic Military Alliance (IMA) to tackle terrorism and extremism. The organisation is headed by former chief of army staff of Pakistan, General Raheel Sharif.

MBS was appointed President of the Crown Prince’s Court with the rank of minister by his father in 2013. He took over from Saud bin Nayef, who became Governor of Eastern Province on April 25, 2014. The Prince was also made state minister at this time.

On June 21, 2017, Mohammed bin Nayef was removed from the position of Crown Prince by King Salman in favour of MBS, who became the heir to the throne.

Vision 2030

Saudi Vision 2030, the blueprint for the future of Saudi Arabia, is a brainchild of MBS. The main objective of the plan is to reduce the country’s reliance on oil.

Through economic diversification, Vision 2030 not just seeks to create jobs for Saudi youth, but it also intends to make women a significant part of the national workforce.

MBS in Pakistan

The crown prince, who is visiting Pakistan on the invitation of Prime Minister Khan, was accorded a red carpet welcome and presented a guard of honour at the PM House on Sunday.

According to a report, the Pakistani government has reserved 300 Land Cruisers for the Crown Prince and his entourage. The crown prince, who is staying at the Prime Minister House, is accompanied by a delegation of chief executives, businessmen and ministers, apart from Saudi Royal Guards.

During the visit, Saudi ministers will hold meetings with their Pakistani counterparts on cooperation in their respective fields.

Developments so far

The delegation led by the crown prince has signed business, investment and cooperation deals between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia amounting to $20 billion.

On the request of PM Imran khan, the Crown Prince ordered Saudi officials to release 2,107 prisoners locked in Saudi Jails.

PM Imran has said that the Crown Prince’s visit would strengthen economic and defence ties between the two countries.


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