The death on 12 February of the governor of Riyadh, Prince Sattam ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, and the 1 February appointment of Prince Muqrin ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz as second deputy prime minister has once again turned attention to the vexed question of the succession in Saudi Arabia. Thus far, the crown has remained the property of the sons of the founder of the Kingdom, King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Sa’ud, who died in 1953, but in the nature of things this is an era that is drawing to a close.

So when a member of the next generation, Prince Muhammad Ibn Nayif, was appointed Interior Minister last November, it was widely assumed that the royal family had finally decided to grasp the nettle and was positioning him to become the first grandchild of King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz to succeed. This assumption has now been thrown into doubt by the appointment of Prince Muqrin – the youngest surviving son of Ibn Sa’ud – to a position often described as “crown prince in waiting.” (King ‘Abd Allah is also prime minister and Crown Prince Salman serves as deputy prime minister.) (CONTINUED - 328 WORDS)