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Saudi Arabia's Next King Is Going To Be A Millennial, So That's Going To Be Weird

A shuffle in the Saudi royal succession has placed Mohammed bin Salman — who is only 31 — next in line to the throne.

Posted on June 21, 2017, at 5:39 p.m. ET

This is Mohammed bin Salman. As of Wednesday, he's the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. He's also just 31.

That's right. The guy who's next in line to become the head of Saudi Arabia is in the same age demographic as Miley Cyrus and Mark Zuckerburg. He's taking the place of Prince Mohammad bin Nayef, his 57-year-old cousin, who got bumped from the spot and his role as the country's interior minister.
Pool / Getty Images

That's right. The guy who's next in line to become the head of Saudi Arabia is in the same age demographic as Miley Cyrus and Mark Zuckerburg. He's taking the place of Prince Mohammad bin Nayef, his 57-year-old cousin, who got bumped from the spot and his role as the country's interior minister.

This is all super weird, not least because if there's one thing the House of Saud is known for, it's its rulers being Old As Hell™."

After the death of King Abdulaziz Al Saud, the country's founder and namesake, in 1953, the crown has passed hands among his sons. As a result, as the years have gone on, the kings of the country have gotten older and older and their reigns shorter and shorter. A desire to bump up the younger generation is seen as one of the key factors in King Salman's decision to raise his son to the Crown Princeship and demote Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.The choice is especially huge in a country that has praised ~stability~ over everything. And while internal shake-ups are common in countries where a term can last a decade at most, something like this shifts how the country is going to be ruled for years upon years.
Hamad I Mohammed / Reuters

After the death of King Abdulaziz Al Saud, the country's founder and namesake, in 1953, the crown has passed hands among his sons. As a result, as the years have gone on, the kings of the country have gotten older and older and their reigns shorter and shorter. A desire to bump up the younger generation is seen as one of the key factors in King Salman's decision to raise his son to the Crown Princeship and demote Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

The choice is especially huge in a country that has praised ~stability~ over everything. And while internal shake-ups are common in countries where a term can last a decade at most, something like this shifts how the country is going to be ruled for years upon years.

King Salman is 81, which means that MBS, as the new crown prince is colloquially known, is probably going to be king sooner rather than later.

And really, is there anything more of a Privileged Millennial move than having an amazing job handed to you by your dad?
Fayez Nureldine / AFP / Getty Images

And really, is there anything more of a Privileged Millennial move than having an amazing job handed to you by your dad?

But he's not the only millennial who's moving up in the ranks in Riyadh.

As if getting his title snatched by his nephew wasn't enough, Mohammed bin Nayef also lost his job as interior minister. Instead, the job went to...his oldest son, Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef. Damn. That's just cold.
Fayez Nureldine / AFP / Getty Images

As if getting his title snatched by his nephew wasn't enough, Mohammed bin Nayef also lost his job as interior minister. Instead, the job went to...his oldest son, Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef. Damn. That's just cold.

So what would it mean to have a millennial Custodian of the Two Holy Sites? The biggest change will probably be the result of the length of his eventual time on the throne.

Saudi Arabia is still an absolute monarchy, which means as the king orders, so it goes. With a potential decades-spanning kingship ahead of him, MBS could set the course of the country for generations to come.
Fayez Nureldine / AFP / Getty Images

Saudi Arabia is still an absolute monarchy, which means as the king orders, so it goes. With a potential decades-spanning kingship ahead of him, MBS could set the course of the country for generations to come.

But we can make other assumptions based on his age. Like once he's king, we can assume that meetings like this one will take place over brunch with a firm "no cell phones at the table" rule.

The crown prince has retained his title of defense minister as well, which means he can keep running the show as regards Saudi Arabia's ongoing war in Yemen, which has killed hundreds of civilians through bombings and disease. Selfish millennials, amirite?
Fayez Nureldine / AFP / Getty Images

The crown prince has retained his title of defense minister as well, which means he can keep running the show as regards Saudi Arabia's ongoing war in Yemen, which has killed hundreds of civilians through bombings and disease. Selfish millennials, amirite?

Besides the Defense Ministry, MBS has been given a portfolio almost as big as Jared Kushner's, including a role as chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs.

Somebody hook this guy up with a fidget spinner, is what I'm saying.
Fayez Nureldine / AFP / Getty Images

Somebody hook this guy up with a fidget spinner, is what I'm saying.

He's also super charismatic, according to his supporters, which could mean an uptick in Facebook friend invites — and a firm block on Qatar and Iran for a long time.

A large part of MBS's plans for Saudi Arabia have focused on two points: reducing the kingdom's economic dependence on its massive oil reserves, the largest in the word, and asserting itself more regionally. He and the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates were reportedly two of the key players in isolating Qatar during the recent diplomatic spat between Saudi Arabia's allies and its neighbor. Iran, meanwhile, has been labeling MBS's ascension as a "soft coup" in local media. Other Arab countries have been more cautious in their coverage — except for the Saudi media, naturally, which was entirely supportive of this new development.
Mark Wilson / Getty Images

A large part of MBS's plans for Saudi Arabia have focused on two points: reducing the kingdom's economic dependence on its massive oil reserves, the largest in the word, and asserting itself more regionally. He and the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates were reportedly two of the key players in isolating Qatar during the recent diplomatic spat between Saudi Arabia's allies and its neighbor.

Iran, meanwhile, has been labeling MBS's ascension as a "soft coup" in local media. Other Arab countries have been more cautious in their coverage — except for the Saudi media, naturally, which was entirely supportive of this new development.

It's going to be a few years yet before he's on the throne, but until then, please enjoy this artist's interpretation of his time in power.

Getty Images / BuzzFeed News

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