Saudi king names son as heir to throne

Prince Mohammed bin Salman has worked as defence minister and is working to diversify foreign investment, campaigning to sell of part of Saudi's state-owned Saudi Aramco, oil company.

Born in Jeddah in 1985, Mohammed bin Salman holds a law degree from King Saud University and, unlike many Saudi royals, has never been educated outside the country.

The turnover at the top of the royal family was made by a majority decision of 31 of 34 members of the kingdom's allegiance council, a royal body set up to oversee succession, the official news agency reported.

Saudi media say King Salman has called for a public pledge of allegiance to the new crown prince in the holy city of Mecca on Wednesday night.

Mohammed bin Salman, 31, now finds himself on track to possibly become Saudi Arabia's youngest-ever king.

However, King Salman has significantly increased the powers of Mohammed, with observers describing the prince as the real power behind his father's throne.

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The move marked another step in the meteoric rise of the young prince, who is already the world's youngest defense minister and has been charged with overhauling the country's economy.

Prince bin Salman, 31, is now deputy crown prince.

Salman, nicknamed "Mr Everything", is the son of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and is seen as symbolising the hopes of the youth of the country's population, more than half of which is under 25.

Until his father Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud became Saudi Arabia's seventh king in January 2015, few people outside the kingdom had ever heard of Prince Mohammed, seen more than two years on as the power behind its throne. The Crown Prince is also known for his charitable efforts.

He is the main champion of the kingdom's Vision 2030 reform plan to bring social and economic change to the oil-dependent economy of a country where women's rights are among the most restricted in the world.

In celebration of the news, King Salman ordered the reinstatement of all benefits and allowances for government employees that had been curbed by austerity measures, and granted additional days off for the upcoming Eid holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.

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Bin Salman and Trump during the latter's visit to Saudi Arabia. As minister of defense, Mohammed bin Salman has led Saudi Arabia's bloody war in neighboring Yemen since March 2015, where Riyadh is fighting against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels to reinstate the government of exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. On Wednesday, he met Mohammed bin Salman and told him: "I will rest now and God help you".

How does Saudi Arabia's royal succession work?

The Saudi stock market rose four percent on news that the king had named him as crown prince and that the exchange had moved closer to joining a major global index.

Mohammed bin Nayef was once a towering figure credited with crushing al-Qaida's cells in Saudi Arabia.

He has also forged ties with Washington and the Trump administration. He also vowed to take "the battle" to Iran and dismissed the possibility of a dialogue with Tehran.

The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is a major dividing line in the Middle East, as both states struggle for influence in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula.

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"Its actions in Yemen and Qatar show a lack of political strategy, over-confidence in and over-reliance on its "hard" power including finances, military buildup, and United States support under President Trump", Sayigh said.

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