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Behold, the world’s most powerful millennial

Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reacts upon his arrival at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France in this June 24, 2015 file photo.
Reuters/Charles Platiau
By Matt Phillips
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Plenty of millennials believe they know exactly how the world should be run.

One is actually doing it.

In a far-reaching interview broadcast on the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya, 30-year-old Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman effectively cemented his status as the world’s most powerful millennial. Known as MbS, the deputy crown prince outlined plans to overhaul the Kingdom’s oil reliant economy, including selling off a 5% stake in the crown jewels of the Saudi economy—Saudi Aramco, the national oil company.

The fact that prince Mohammed—who is second-in-line for the throne now held by his father, King Salman—detailed the economic overhaul underscores his unusually powerful position. A recent Bloomberg Businessweek article described his rise to power in this way:

In January 2015. Prince Mohammed’s father, Salman, assumed the throne, named his son the deputy crown prince—second in line—and gave him unprecedented control over the state oil monopoly, the national investment fund, economic policy, and the Ministry of Defense. That’s a larger portfolio than that of the crown prince, the only man ahead of him on the succession chart. Effectively, Prince Mohammed is today the power behind the world’s most powerful throne.

As part of his role as defense minister, he quickly has launched the Saudi intervention against Iranian-backed militants that had overthrown the government in Yemen. As the Economist reported earlier this year:

“Just weeks after his father made him defense minister, fighter jets from Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s richest state, led a coalition into action against the Houthi militias of its poorest, Yemen. To critics who say he was rash to intervene in a land that has bloodied foreign armies before, Prince Muhammad says the action, if anything, came too late: the Shia Houthis, with Iran’s help, had taken the country and sophisticated weapons, such as jets and Scud missiles.”

While Saudi Arabia’s sclerotic economy needs to be shaken up, it remains to be seen whether the aggressive path taken by bin Salman will be too much for the royal family to take.

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