Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has replaced his cousin as crown prince, a sudden announcement that puts the 31-year-old next in line to the throne of the world’s biggest oil exporter. Prince Mohammed has become the face of Saudi Arabia on the international stage and the architect of its plans to overhaul the economy. The decision settles what many analysts had described as a power struggle with his 57-year-old cousin, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef.
Although many Saudi watchers speculated that this move would come, the timing took most by surprise in a conservative kingdom. The young prince, known as MBS, has been steadily building influence after assuming roles overseeing the economy, oil and defense in 2015 after his father ascended to the throne and appointed his cousin as crown prince.