At a royal decree issued on June 21, 2017, King Salman ousts his nephew as crown prince and installs his 31-year-old son, Mohammed, as his heir.
Widely known as MBS, Prince Mohammed keeps his role at defence ministry.
It comes at the beginning of a major fallout with Qatar: Riyadh and three Arab allies severe ties with Doha exactly the exact same month, accusing it of supporting”terrorists” and being too close to Saudi Arabia’s archrival Iran. Qatar denies the charges.
Over a few days in September 2017 authorities round up at least 20 people, including influential clerics and intellectuals, in what is condemned as a crackdown on dissent by the crown prince.
Approximately 380 royals, ministers and business tycoons are subsequently arrested in November at a dramatic purge headed by Prince Mohammed the government says is a movement against corruption.
Many are held for months at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Most are released after agreeing significant financial settlements.
The monarchy finishes the planet’s only ban on female drivers by announcing in September 2017 which they’ll have the ability to take the wheel in June 2018.
It is the most notable of a set of reforms because the installation of Prince Mohammed, who’s also the architect of a broad plan for social and economic change, known as Vision 2030, that’s accepted ahead of his appointment.
Other reforms include reopening cinemas and allowing both sexes to attend festivals. However Muslim women stay under various limitations and the government are accused of ongoing crackdowns on rights activists.
In November 2017 Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri declares at a televised speech from Riyadh that he’s resigning, citing Iran’s”grip” in his nation.
Saudi Arabia is accused of forcing his hand to create a stand against the sway of Iran and its ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah.
Hariri, encouraged by Saudi Arabia for many years, spends two weeks in Riyadh amid speculation that he cannot leave, until France intervenes and that he withdraws his resignation.
The crown prince in November 2017 accuses Iran of”direct military aggression” by providing ballistic missiles to rebels in neighbouring Yemen.
Days before, Saudi forces intercepted a ballistic missile near Riyadh international airport which was fired by the rebels.
Riyadh entered the Yemeni battle in 2015 in the mind of an Arab army coalition supporting the government against the Iran-allied Huthi rebels.
Prince Mohammed states in March 2018 that if Iran develops a nuclear weapon, Riyadh will do so also. In an interview with CBS television, in addition, he likens Iran’s supreme leader with Hitler, saying he”wants to create his own project in the Middle East”.
Riyadh retains deep reservations over the 2015 accord aimed at controlling Iran’s nuclear ambitions and hails President Donald Trump’s statement in May that the United States is withdrawing from the deal.
In March the prince embarks on his first foreign tour as heir, visiting Egypt and Britain — where he lunches with Queen Elizabeth II — and spending two weeks at the USA, where he meets Trump along with other political and business leaders. He also goes to France and Spain.
In what seemed to be another shift, Prince Mohammed says in a magazine interview in April that Israelis as well as Palestinians”have the right to have their own land”.