Middle East

Saudis welcome 'prince of youth' on social media

Picture text: "We pledge allegiance to listen and obey you." Post text: "I pledge allegiance to the black bisht [Saudi black cloak worn over the traditional national dress]. I will sacrifice myself to he who has become crown prince. I do not intend to calm down even if he became king" Image copyright Instagram/@ghram1516
Image caption One Instagram user posted a photo saying: "We pledge allegiance to listen and obey you."

The appointment of 31-year-old Mohammed bin Salman as Saudi Arabia's new crown prince has won considerable approval among social media users within the Gulf kingdom.

Wednesday's decree by his father, King Salman, was discussed under a number of hashtags, including: "I_pledge_allegiance_to_Mohammed_bin_Salman_as_crown_prince".

Prince Mohammed is popular among young Saudis and the country's middle classes. He is seen as a moderniser, albeit with more hawkish tendencies on foreign policy.

The prince is the architect of the "Vision 2030" initiative, which aims to end the kingdom's dependency on oil, and as defence minister he has overseen a two-year military campaign against the rebel Houthi movement in Yemen.

Admiration

Many Saudis emphasised his standing as a statesman in their posts, using images of him superimposed against the Saudi flag or performing civic duties.

On Instagram, female user @ghram1516 called him the "prince of youth" - a phrase that was widely used in many posts.

"I would sacrifice myself for he who has become crown prince. I do not intend to calm down even if he becomes king," she wrote.

Image copyright Twitter/@S_ALKhalif
Image caption Prince Mohammed bin Salman has served as defence minister since 2015

Another female Twitter user pledged "obedience" to the prince.

Also on Twitter, Salah al-Khalif wished the new crown prince luck and praised his "righteous victories" next to an image of him speaking to a soldier.

Nayef praised

Also shared widely was a video of the prince kneeling before and kissing the hand of the man whom he replaced, his older cousin Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

Many users expressed gratitude to the former crown prince and interior minister for his service to the country, particularly his efforts to combat terrorism.

Image copyright Twitter/@m3a4_s3
Image caption Mohammed bin Nayef was praised for his anti-terrorism efforts as security chief

"One hero leaves and another enters, and the nation remains proud and safe thanks primarily to God, our leaders and people," @fanan000 tweeted.

Another person, @m3a4_s3, posted a photo of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bearing the caption: "The destroyer of terrorism, you will remain in our hearts as long as we live."

'Jumping the queue'

However, not everyone welcomed the changes to the line of succession.

London-based Saudi scholar Madawi al-Rasheed posted the video of the two princes on Twitter, and wrote: "Aborted Attempt by MBS [Mohammed bin Salman] to kiss MBN's [Mohammed bin Nayef's] foot. So grateful for letting me jump Q."

Later, she tweeted an article she had written for Middle East Eye news website, in which she says the appointment "means a lot of things for the future of the kingdom - and all point to uncertainty brought about by the erratic Mohammed".

Describing the prince as "not a capable fire fighter or a tactical statesman", she warns that "he thinks only money solves problems but this has not enabled him to claim victories in the many wars and conflicts that he started."

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