Muhammad bin Nayef

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Muhammad bin Nayef
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
First Deputy Prime Minister
Minister of the Interior
Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz 2013-01-16.jpg
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
First Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia
In office 29 April 2015 – present
Predecessor Muqrin bin Abdulaziz
Monarch Salman
Minister of Interior
In office 5 November 2012 – present
Predecessor Ahmed bin Abdulaziz
Monarch Abdullah
Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
Second Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia
In Office 23 January 2015 — 29 April 2015
Predecessor Muqrin bin Abdulaziz
Successor Mohammad bin Salman
Monarch Salman
Born (1959-08-30) 30 August 1959 (age 57)
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Spouse Reema bint Sultan Al Saud
Full name
Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Saud
House House of Saud
Father Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Mother Al Jawhara bint Abdulaziz bin Musaed bin Jiluwi
Religion Sunni Islam

Muhammad[1] bin Nayef[2] bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Arabic: محمد بن نايف بن عبد العزيز آل سعود‎‎; born 30 August 1959) is the Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior of Saudi Arabia.[3] He is also the chairman of the new Council for Political and Security Affairs.[4] On 29 April 2015, he was appointed heir apparent by King Salman. As Crown Prince, he is first in line to the throne of Saudi Arabia. He is a member of the House of Saud and a nephew of King Salman.[5] If he ascends to the throne, as a grandson of King Abdulaziz he will be the first king of the third generation in Saudi Arabia.

Early life and education[edit]

Prince Muhammad was born in Jeddah on 30 August 1959.[6][7] He is the second eldest son and one of ten children of Prince Nayef.[8][9] Prince Saud is his elder brother and Prince Fahd is his younger brother.[10] Their mother is Al Jawhara bint Abdulaziz bin Musaed Al Jiluwi[9][11] who is a member of the Al Jiluwi branch of the House of Saud.[12]

Muhammad bin Nayef studied in the United States.[13] He took courses at Lewis & Clark College but did not receive a degree.[14] He attended the FBI's security courses from 1985 to 1988, and was trained at Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism units from 1992 to 1994.[8]


Muhammad bin Nayef with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 16 January 2013

Muhammad bin Nayef was appointed assistant interior minister for security affairs in 1999. He had been a businessman before this appointment.[15] He was widely credited for the success of the Ministry's counter-terrorism program.[16] He was also regarded as the architect of the government's counter-insurgency program.[17] He also served as the director of civil defense during his term as assistant minister.[18] He was considered to be an effective assistant interior minister.[19]

In 2004, he was appointed to the rank of minister, becoming number two at the ministry of interior.[8] In October 2010, he warned the U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser of the 2010 cargo plane bomb plot.[20][21] After the appointment of Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud as interior minister upon the death of Prince Nayef in July 2012, Prince Muhammad became deputy interior minister.[5][22]

In November 2009, King Abdullah appointed Muhammad as a member of the influential Supreme Economic Council of Saudi Arabia.[23] This move was regarded as approval of the increase in then-Crown Prince Nayef's power by King Abdullah.[24] On the other hand, this appointment enables Prince Muhammad to extend his influence over the government's economy policy.[25]

On 5 November 2012, King Abdullah issued a royal decree and dismissed Prince Ahmed, minister of interior, from his office and appointed Prince Muhammad as minister.[5] He became the tenth interior minister of Saudi Arabia.[26] Prince Muhammad took the oath of office in front of King Abdullah on 6 November 2012.[27] His appointment was not regarded very positively by human rights activists due to Prince Muhammad's professional experience as a tough enforcer who imprisoned thousands of suspected troublemakers in Saudi Arabia.[28] However, he is regarded as less corrupt and less likely to personally abuse his power in comparison to other senior princes of his generation.[28]

Prince Muhammad met with David Cameron, British Premier, in January 2013.[29] Then he met with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., on 14 January 2013.[30] They discussed issues of security and regional developments.[30] In late January 2013, interior minister Prince Muhammad announced that Saudi women would be allowed to work at the directorate.[31]

In February 2014, Prince Muhammad was made responsible for Syria, replacing Bandar bin Sultan, then intelligence chief of Saudi Arabia.[32] Muhammad was assisted in this effort by Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, the minister of the Saudi Arabian National Guard.[33]

On 10 February 2017 the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) granted its “George Tenet Medal” to Bin Nayef for what the agency called his “excellent intelligence performance, in the domain of counter-terrorism and his unbound contribution to realize world security and peace.” The medal, named after George Tenet, CIA’s longest-serving director, from 1996 to 2004, was handed to him by the than newly appointed CIA director Mike Pompeo during a reception ceremony in the Saudi capital Riyadh in the presence of Minister of Defense Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud. It was the first reaffirmation of ties between the Islamic monarchy and United States since President Donald Trump took office on January 20 2017.[34] The reception was attended by senior, civil and military, officials and the US Charge d’affaires to the Kingdom Christopher Hensel. Bin Nayef and Pompeo discussed security with Turkish officials, he said Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the US is “historic and strategic” and added that the move shows Washington’s recognition of what he called Riyadh’s anti-terrorism efforts.[35] This was while the Kingdom Saudi Arabia, where Wahhabism is embraced, stands accused of supporting Daesh and other Takfiri terror groups fighting inside Syria since 2011, who use the extremist ideology to declare people of other faiths as “infidels” and thus to kill them, and has also been engaged in a military campaign against Yemen since March 2015. Daesh and al-Qaeda are both considered to be inspired by Wahhabism.[36][37][38]

Deputy Crown Prince[edit]

On 23 January 2015 it was announced that King Salman had appointed Muhammad bin Nayef as deputy crown prince.[39][40] The announcement reportedly helped calm fears of dynastic instability over the line of succession.[41] Thus, Prince Muhammad became the first of his generation to be officially in line for the throne. In addition to his other posts Prince Muhammad was named the chair of the Council for Political and Security Affairs which was established on 29 January 2015.[40]

Crown Prince[edit]

Crown Prince Muhammad with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, 6 May 2015

On 29 April 2015 Muhammad bin Nayef was named Crown Prince, replacing Muqrin bin Abdulaziz in the post.[42]

War in Yemen[edit]

As chair of the Council for Political and Security Affairs, the Prince has been a leading commander of Operation Decisive Storm, the first major Saudi military operation of the 21st century.


Muhammad bin Nayef, unlike most of the royal family, actively talks to the media.[43] Concerning the struggle against terrorism, he adopts a policy of the iron fist like his father, Prince Nayef.[25] He, and other decision-making elites, believe terrorism must be treated as a form of crime and fought with ruthless policing methods.[44] Walid Jumblatt described Muhammad bin Nayef as the Saudi equivalent of General Ashraf Rifi, former director-general of Lebanon's Internal Security Forces.[45]

Muhammad bin Nayef was commended by Western intelligence agencies for Saudi Arabia's counterterrorism programs.[43] He called for a "security channel" with the United States to facilitate information exchange. He firmly supported U.S. President Barack Obama in his opposition to the release of detainee interrogation photographs. He thought that Yemen was a "dangerous failed state" and becoming a serious threat to Saudi Arabia. He further believed that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was losing control. He suggested a strategy of directly working with Yemeni tribes, condemning terrorism.[46]

He praised General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani as a "good man". He voiced his concerns concerning Iran’s nuclear program. He defers foreign policy issues to the King.[47] After his appointment as interior minister, U.S. diplomats argued that he is "the most pro-American minister in the Saudi Cabinet".[48]


The Economist described Prince Muhammad as energetic and low-key, and stated that he was one of the candidates for the throne when the line of succession passes to the grandsons of King Abdulaziz.[49] He was also considered to be one of the possible contenders after his father's death in June 2012.[50][51] In 2011, Michael Hayden reported that Prince Muhammad was the world's fifth most powerful defender.[52] On 4 March 2016, Muhammad bin Nayef was decorated with the French Legion of Honour by French president François Hollande.[53] In April 2016 Prince Muhammad was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People.[54]

Assassination attempts[edit]

Muhammad bin Nayef escaped four assassination attempts. He was slightly injured in the third attempt, and unhurt in the others.[55]

The third attempt was on 27 August 2009.[55] Muhammad bin Nayef was slightly injured by Abdullah Hassan Al Aseery (Al Asiri), a suicide bomber linked to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Al Aseery spoke to Muhammad bin Nayef a few days prior to the bombing and expressed a desire to turn himself in as part of the country's terrorist rehabilitation program. This was an apparent plot to get admitted to the Prince's palace.[56] Al Aseery is believed to have traveled to Jeddah from Yemen's province, Marib. During Ramadan, Al Aseery waited in line at the Prince's Jeddah home as a "well-wisher". He exploded a suicide bomb, killing himself, but only slightly injuring Muhammad bin Nayef, who was protected from the full force of the blast by Al Aseery's body.[57][58] Muhammad bin Nayef appeared on state television with a bandage around two of his fingers on his left hand. He stated, "I did not want him to be searched, but he surprised me by blowing himself up. However, this will only increase my determination to fight terrorism in the kingdom".[59] In the attack, Al Aseery used an explosive device hidden inside his rectum.[60] These are commonly known as a surgically implanted improvised explosive device, or as a 'Body Cavity Bomb' (BCB).[61]

This was the first assassination attempt against a royal family member since 2003, when Saudi Arabia faced a sharp uptick in Al Qaeda-linked attacks.[62][63] The last assassination attempt against Prince Muhammad was in August 2010.[55]

Personal life[edit]

Muhammad bin Nayef is the son-in-law of and also the full nephew of Sultan bin Abdulaziz. He is also full-nephew of King Fahd and King Salman.[49] He is married to Reema bint Sultan Al Saud, his full first cousin, and they have two daughters.[64]

In April 2016, Muhammad bin Nayef was implicated in the Panama Papers leaks.[65]



  1. ^ Also spelled Mohammed.
  2. ^ Also spelled Naif.
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Media related to Muhammad bin Nayef at Wikimedia Commons

Saudi Arabian royalty
Preceded by
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
28 April 2015 – present
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Ahmed bin Abdulaziz
Minister of the Interior
Preceded by
Muqrin bin Abdulaziz
Second Deputy Prime Minister
Succeeded by
Muhammad bin Salman
Preceded by
Muqrin bin Abdulaziz
First Deputy Prime Minister