Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been ranked eighth on a list of the world’s most powerful people by US magazine Forbes.
The 32-year-old was by far the youngest figure in the top 10, which was led by 74-year-old Chinese leader Xi Jinping, 65-year-old Russian President Vladimir Putin, 71-year-old US President Donald Trump, 63-year-old German Chancellor Angela Merkel and 54-year-old Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos.
Forbes said the heir to the Saudi throne secured the ranking after consolidating power since his appointment in June and leading an anti-corruption campaign that snared hundreds of businessmen, royal and government officials last year.
The publication removed all 10 Saudis from its rich list including the kingdom’s most famous businessman, billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, in 2018 following the crackdown.
Since then, the crown prince has met world leaders and overseen the signing of billions of dollars of deals during a successful international tour with stops in the UK, US, France and Spain.
He has also expressed sometimes-controversial viewpoints on the kingdom’s relationship with Islam, women’s dress and its ties with Israel and overseen the opening of the kingdom’s first new cinemas in decades under an entertainment drive.
Further reforms are to follow next month, with the kingdom stating this week that it had everything in place to meet its June 24 deadline to lift a ban on women driving.
Elsewhere on the ranking, Catholic leader Pope Francis stood in sixth, Microsoft founder Bill Gates in seventh, Narendra Modi in ninth and Google founder Larry Page in 10th.
Other prominent Middle Eastern figures on the list included Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 17th and UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 43rd.