Muhammad bin Nayef Al Saud
Birthday: August 30, 1959
Nationality: Saudi Arabian
Age: 61 Years, 61 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Muhammad bin Nayef, Abdul-Aziz Al Saud
Born in: Jeddah
Famous as: Former Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabian Men
Spouse/Ex-: Reema bint Sultan Bin Abdelaziz Al Saud
father: Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud
mother: Jawhara bint Abdulaziz bin Musaed Al Jiluwi
siblings: Fahd bin Nayef, Hayfa bint Nayef, Jawahir bint Nayef, Mishail bint Nayef, Nawwaf bin Nayef, Noura bint Nayef, Nuf bint Nayef, Sara bint Nayef, Saud bin Nayef
children: Lulua bint Muhammad bin Nayef, Sara bint Muhammad bin Nayef
education: Lewis & Clark College
Muhammad bin Nayef Al Saud is one of the prominent members of the royal family of the Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud. As his father was one of the favorite sons of the country’s founder monarch, Muhammad bin Nayef enjoyed a privileged position right from his birth. Educated in the USA, he began his career as a businessman, and around the age of 40, he joined the service of the state as the Assistant Interior Minister. Very soon, he proved his capability in fighting terrorism, being hailed internationally as the architect of his government’s counter-insurgency program. Continuing to serve his government in various capacities, he became the interior minister at the age 53 and the crown prince at 55. He is the first person in his generation to be officially named as the successor to the throne. However, he would never be the king because barely two years after being declared the crown prince, he was forced to step aside in favor of the deputy crown prince, who happened to be King Salman’s favorite son. Muhammad bin Nayef now leads a secluded life in Jeddah, away from public adulation.
Childhood & Early Life
Muhammad bin Nayef Al Saud was born on 30 August 1959 in Jeddah. His father, Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, was the 23rd and a favorite son of Saudi Arabia’s founder monarch, King Abdulaziz. As a member of powerful ‘Sudairi Seven,’ Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz served as the crown prince till his death in 2012.
His mother, Al Jawhara bint Abdulaziz bin Musaed Al Jiluwi, comes from the Al Jiluwi branch of House of Saud. She was his father’s second wife. The couple had four children, and Muhammad bin Nayef was born third among them. He has three full-siblings named, Princess Noura, Prince Saud and Princess Sara.
Muhammad also has six half-siblings. From his father’s first marriage to Noura Alfarraj Alsubaie, he has a half-sister called, Princess Jawahi. From his father’s third marriage to Maha bint Mohammed bin Ahmad al-Sudairi, Muhammad has five half-siblings, includingPrincess Nouf, Prince Nawwaf, Princess Mishail, Princess Hayfa and Prince Fahd.
Not much is known about Prince Muhammad bin Nayef’s early education except that he completed his schooling in the USA. Later, he enrolled in Lewis & Clark College in Portland, but left without earning his degree. However, according to some other sources, he received his degree in political science in 1981.
From 1985 to 1988, he studied security courses under the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Thereafter, from 1992 to 1994, he received training with anti-terrorism unit of the Scotland Yard. In the meantime, he worked in the private sector, operating several business ventures.
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In 1999, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef was appointed the Assistant Interior Minister for Security Affairs by a royal decree. At that time, his father Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud held the position of the Interior Minister and very soon, Muhammad bin Nayef proved to be an able assistant to him.
In 2000, Muhammad bin Nayef was simultaneously appointed as a member of the Higher Media Council by the then Crown Prince, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. He successfully held both positions till 2004. At some point during this period, he also served as the Director of Civil Defense.
In 2003, as Al Qaeda intensified its activities in Saudi Arabia, targeting expatriate housing compounds, oil infrastructure, and industrial facilities; Muhammad began to work with his father to neutralize them, forming successful counter-terrorism programs. Concurrently, he continued to interact with the media, thereby strengthening his father’s political position.
His contribution to the war on terrorism was not only recognized at the national level, but was also praised by the international press. In a report published in 2003, ‘The Washington Post’, a well-known American newspaper, described him as the official “who is leading the world’s largest counter-terrorist campaign.”
In 2004, he was elevated to the rank of Deputy Interior Minister, while his father continued to function as the Interior Minister. With this promotion, Muhammad became the number two in the ministry. Working together, the father-son duo were able to end Al Qaeda terrorist attacks by 2007 to a large extent.
During his war on terror, Muhammad also oversaw security coordination with the United States. In addition, he also maintained close relationship with Saudi Arabia’s religious conservatives, a group that was believed to be behind two uprisings in the late 20th century and was still considered the biggest possible threat to the government.
In August 2009, Mohammed bin Nayef was informed that a young Saudi militant with ties to Al Qaeda wanted to turn himself in. On hearing this, he sent his private plane to pick him up. Subsequently, on 27 August 2009, the man was brought to the prince’s home in Jeddah.
Once the man came within a few feet of the prince, he detonated a bomb he was carrying in his body cavity. The explosion, which killed the young man instantly, tearing his body apart, heavily injured the prince.
According to sources close to him, some of the shrapnel could not be removed from Muhammad’s body and he continues to suffer great pain due to them. To alleviate the pain, he started taking drugs like morphine, which soon became a habit.
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He survived at least three more assassination attempts after this. One of them was made while he was in his office, and the other was made during his visit to Yemen.
In November 2009, Mohammed bin Nayef was appointed as a member of the influential Supreme Economic Council of Saudi Arabia by King Abdullah. The move increased his influence on the economic policies of the Saudi government. Concurrently, he continued to work as the Deputy Interior Minister.
On receiving information about a cargo plane bomb blast plot on 28 October 2010, he called the U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, giving him the relevant details. It led to the discovery of two bombs on two separate cargo planes, thus avoiding mid-air accidents over US cities.
His power was further increased when his father was appointed the crown prince and first deputy prime minister by King Abdullah on 27 October 2011. However, Mohammed bin Nayef continued to function as Deputy Interior Minister under the new Interior Minister, Prince Ahmed.
On 5 November 2012, Muhammad was appointed the Minister of Interior by a royal decree, replacing his uncle Prince Ahmed. He took oath of office on 6 November 2010, but his appointment received mixed reactions from the Saudi people.
Although he was regarded less corrupt and less likely to abuse power, human right activists were critical of him. During his reign as the deputy interior minister, he had thrown thousands of suspected trouble makers into the prison, and this did not go down well with critics.
In January 2013, Muhammad opened the door of his directorate to Saudi women, announcing that they would henceforth be allowed to work there. Earlier in the same month, he met then British Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. President Barack Obama, with whom he discussed matters related to security and regional development.
In February 2014, he was appointed director general of General Intelligence Presidency, the primary intelligence agency of the country, replacing his cousin Bandar bin Sultan. He was also placed in charge of the Saudi intelligence in Syria, especially being asked to manage his country’s policy in the Syrian Civil War.
On 23 January 2015 when King Abdullah passed away, Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was declared the new King. Shortly after his accession, he named Muhammad bin Nayef as the new deputy crown prince, and also made him the second deputy prime minister and interior minister.
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The king also named Prince Muhammad to the chair of the Council for Political and Security Affairs. In this capacity, he participated in the Operation Decisive Storm as a leading commander.
On 29 April 1915, he was appointed Crown Prince by King Salman, thus becoming the first in his generation to be in line to the throne. King Salman’s son Mohammad bin Salman was made the deputy crown prince.
As the crown prince, Muhammad enjoyed a great deal of power, sharing important portfolios like security and economic development with his cousin and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. But very soon, the situation took a different turn.
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman began to interfere in Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef’s work, often taking the key decisions without his knowledge or approval. Muhammad’s personal court was also disbanded and it was merged with the king’s court. This not only prevented him from bestowing independent patronage, but also from cultivating support. His security advisor was also replaced.
On 21 June 2017, Muhammad bin Nayef received a call from his cousin Muhammad bin Salman, informing him that the king wanted to meet him. Taking it as a routine call, he went to meet King Salman bin Abdulaziz on the fourth floor of the royal palace in Mecca.
Once he reached the palace, the king ordered him to step aside from the crown in favor of Prince Muhammad bin Salman, who happens to be the king’s favorite son. There was nobody else in the room.
The king told Muhammad that the pain-killing drug that he was taking was clouding his judgment and dangerously affecting his decisions. King Salman also reminded Muhammad that he had been asked to get treatment, but he failed to do that. After their conversation, the king left him alone.
Although he was not prepared for it, Prince Muhammad finally realized that he would have to concede. Left without any mode of communication to the outside world, he could not do anything. Finally at dawn, he decided that was ready to see the king.
His second meeting with the king was short. As he left the room after signing the document, he was surprised to find Prince Muhammad bin Salman waiting for him with TV crew. Prince Salman embraced and kissed the outgoing crown prince as the camera started rolling.
As soon as Muhammad bin Nayef agreed to step down, King Salman declared his son Prince Muhammad bin Salman the new Crown Prince. He also removed Muhammad bin Nayef from the positions of the deputy prime minister and interior minister.
Muhammad bin Nayef now lives in isolation with new guards who have been assigned to him. According to media reports, no visitors except close family members are allowed to see him. He does not take any phone calls.
According to Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, bank accounts linked to him and his immediate family members have been frozen. His request for relocating to England or Switzerland has also been turned down.
In November 2017, he made his first confirmed public appearance while attending the funeral of his uncle Mansour bin Muqrin. That apart, he sometimes visits his ailing mother and even during that he is always accompanied by his new guards.
Awards & Achievement
On 10 February 2017, Muhammad bin Nayef was awarded with George Tenet Medal by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for his "excellent intelligence performance in the domain of counter-terrorism and his unbound contribution to realize world security and peace”.
Family & Personal Life
Muhammad bin Nayef is married to his first cousin, Reema bint Sultan Al Saud, daughter of Sultan bin Abdulaziz, who was the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia from 2005 to 2011. They have two daughters; Princess Sarah and Princess Lulua.
On hearing that his cousin Muhammad bin Salman has been declared the new Crown Prince, Muhammad bin Nayef is reported to have said, "I am content”. He then went on to add, "I am going to rest now. May God help you".
Saudi Arabia denies that Muhammad bin Nayef was forced to resign and he has been put under house arrest. In a statement to Reuters, an official dismissed the reports of Muhammad’s house arrest as "unfounded and untrue in addition to being nonsense", calling it "complete fantasy worthy of Hollywood”.