Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah yesterday named former intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, as second deputy prime minister.
The appointment has been welcomed by all sections of Saudi society. Prince Muqrin will take over the post immediately, the Saudi Press Agency reported yesterday.
“The royal order should be carried out by the concerned authorities with immediate effect,” said the SPA statement.
Prince Muqrin, who once headed the Saudi intelligence, is the youngest son of the Kingdom’s founder, the late King Abdulaziz. Prince Muqrin has won commendations from King Abdullah and the people of this country for his active role, while working as adviser and special envoy to the king.
The appointment makes Prince Muqrin the third most powerful political figure in the Kingdom.
As soon as the news of appointment of Prince Muqrin broke, congratulatory messages started pouring in. In one of the firsts such message, Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa said: “It is my greatest pleasure to congratulate you for the high trust reposed in you by our dear brother King Abdullah … which led to appoint you second deputy premier. We pray to God to grant you strength and success in performing the great responsibility under the wise leadership of King Abdullah and maintain security, peace and welfare of people.”
He added: “It is a great opportunity for us to express our pride and happiness, while noting the strong, brotherly and historical relations between the two countries and their people, which have had long and deep roots.
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Qayid, a member of the executive council of the National Society for Human Rights, said, “The appointment of Prince Muqrin by King Abdullah is indeed a commendable choice.”
Al-Qayid said that, “I had the privilege to know Prince Muqrin personally … he represents the elite class of Saudis, who are well-versed in foreign affairs, domestic issues and affairs of the state. Prince Muqrin, while serving as governor of Hail and Madinah, was the first to introduce e-governance in those two regions.
In the new role, Prince Muqrin will be in charge of the day-to-day running of the government, if both King Abdullah, who is also prime minister, and Crown Prince Salman, are traveling abroad.
The position of the second deputy primer had been left unfilled when King Abdullah ascended to the throne following the death of King Fahd. The royal decree issued by King Abdullah again created the position. The king has notified the members of the Allegiance Council of the appointment of Prince Muqrin.
Ahmed Al-Fathi of King Saud University (KSU), said that the appointment of Prince Muqrin is “a clear sign of continuity and stability of the Kingdom as it continues through a period of internal economic transformation in a region that has become deeply troubled with strife.”
Prince Muqrin, Al-Fathi said, has been characterized widely as “a pragmatist.”
The prince has demonstrated time and again that he is someone who analyzes a problem, sees what needs to be done and then solves it, be it a local issue or a foreign policy issue, he added. “The second deputy premier … is an intelligent leader with deeply-held principles, which could never be compromised,” said the academician.
Muqrin, who was born on Sept. 15, 1945, has had his education in the Kingdom and abroad.
He graduated with a degree in aeronautics from the Britain’s RAF College in Cranwell in 1968 and also acquired a Masters degree in military sciences. He also served in several positions in the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) until 1980, when he was appointed governor of Hail.
Prince Muqrin was associated with several organizations and charities including Hail Welfare Society and Hail Agricultural Development Company. He was posted in Hail until 1999 before he was named as governor of Madinah region, where he worked tirelessly to develop the region.
He launched a number of educational, health care and infrastructure projects in the holy city of Madinah and its adjoining towns and villages during his tenure as governor.
In 2005, he was promoted as general director of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency called Al Mukhabarat Al Aamah, becoming actively involved in critical Saudi foreign policy. He was the first to organize a conference on combating Internet militancy and recruitment drive launched by Al-Qaeda in 2007.
He left the agency last July and became King Abdullah’s personal envoy.
On international level, Prince Muqrin was involved in solving the bilateral and regional problems besides playing a leading role in political reconciliation in Pakistan, Afghanistan and a few other countries of the Middle East. His views on key regional affairs and his approach in dealing with the issues have been lauded by one and all.
Ibrahim Al-Dobaiyan, a Saudi businessman, said that, “Prince Muqrin is liked by everyone in this country.”
The prince has always been extending a helping hand to anyone, who approached him for support, he added. Prince Muqrin, the king’s younger half-brother, is also known for his love for books. The prince, who is fond of literature and Arabic poetry, has a large library.