The Persian Gulf is abuzz over what giant Saudi Arabia will be like under the rule of the new heir Crown Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, according to the Gulf News, a daily English language newspaper published from Dubai. The future of Saudi Arabia seems as enigmatic as the man who will lead it.

There appear to be at least two very different opinions on Crown Prince Nayef. According to liberal Saudis, Crown Prince Nayef is a hard-line conservative who is concerned with keeping controlling power within the Al Saud ruling family. As the interior minister for 40 years, he ruled over the department that kept very firm control over political activists.

However many others – including local journalists, former diplomats, and the members of the ruling family — paint a softer picture of Crown Prince Nayef. Khalid Al Maeena, editor at large of the Arab News daily in Jeddah, views Nayef as a kind man who “keeps one foot on the ground” and “has the pulse of the nation.”

These two contrasting perspectives on the high-profile figure who will next lead Saudi Arabia are causing widespread anxiety: Saudi Arabia dominates global oil markets, not to mention the influence it wields as the protectorate of two of Islam’s holiest sites: Medina and Mecca.

The Western and Islamic worlds both await which face of Crown Prince Nayef they will encounter: the sympathetic one that journalists and diplomats see or the stern conservative face that Saudi liberals fear. Or perhaps some combination of both?

 

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