Araweelo News Network


This story is adapted from Blood and Oil: Mohammed bin Salman’s Ruthless Quest for Global Power, by Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck.

In 2014, Mohammed bin Salman’s uncle, King Abdullah, was nearing death. For more than 60 years, the Saudi crown had been passed from one son of the kingdom’s founder to the next, the heir being determined by a combination of seniority and consensus of the surviving brothers. Mohammed’s father, Crown Prince Salman, was set to inherit the throne upon Abdullah’s death. But anonymous Twitter users were spreading claims that Salman had dementia, and that presented a problem for Mohammed: If the rumors became accepted as fact by Saudis and foreigners, Salman’s brothers might feel pressure to elevate one of his rivals, cutting the Salman clan off from its claim to the throne and dashing Mohammed’s hopes of one day inheriting the crown.

Mohammed grasped the significance of social media long before the kingdom’s geriatric princes. A millenial himself, he spent his youth eating fast food, playing Age of Empires and first-person shooter games, and keeping up with friends on the internet, according to people who’ve known him since childhood. He was a member of the country’s core demographic: About 60 percent of the population was under thirty. And though the country had become more conservative in the last 35 years, young Saudis had unfettered access to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. They were the least powerful people in the country—many struggled to find jobs—but they were also the most educated and outnumbered the religious ideologues many times over.

Read the full report here: A Saudi Prince’s Attempt to Silence Critics on Twitter