All in the Bin Naif family The late crown prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz (left) was interior minister from 1975 until his death in 2012; his eldest son Prince Saud Bin Naif is now governor of the Eastern province and his grandson Prince Abdulaziz Bin Saud (right) is now interior minister and the third most powerful member of the ruling Al-Saud family in the Saudi cabinet.
Mohammed Bin Naif has been replaced as Saudi Arabia’s interior minister but responsibility for the kingdom’s powerful internal security system remains within his family with the appointment of his nephew Prince Abdulaziz Bin Saud Bin Naif as his successor.
Prince Abdulaziz, born in November 1983, is the second child and eldest son of Prince Saud Bin Naif, governor of the kingdom’s Eastern Province, location of most of Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas reserves and home to its largest Shiite community.
Prince Saudi Bin Naif is the eldest son of the late Crown Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz, full brother of King Salman and the late King Fahd who was heir to the Saudi throne for eight months until his death in June 2012.
Prince Naif was Saudi Arabia’s interior minister for 37 years.
Prince Saud Bin Naif, once considered a possible future Saudi king, sits on the 34-member Allegiance Council of senior Al-Saud family members which selects the successor to the king. It voted by 31 to 34 in favour of making Prince Mohammed Bin Salman crown prince on 21 June.
Abdulaziz is consequently a nephew of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman even though he is three years older to the newly-appointed heir to the Saudi throne. Mohammed Bin Naif is his uncle.
Prince Abdulaziz went to school in Dhahran Ahliyya School and studied law at King Saud University. He subsequently worked in the private sector. Prince Abdulaziz was made an advisor to the royal court following King Salman’s succession to the Saudi throne in January 2015.
He is now the third most powerful member of the Al Saud ruling family in the kingdom’s cabinet after the king, who is prime minister, and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who is also defence minister.
No statement has yet been issued about whether Prince Abdulaziz he will replace Prince Mohammed Bin Naif as chairman of the Council for Political & Social Affairs, one of two powerful cabinet subcommittees created in 2015. Prince Mohammed Bin Salman chairs the Council for Economic & Development Affairs (CEDA), which deals with all areas of government economic and financial policy.
It is also as yet unclear whether he will be named as Saudi Arabia’s second deputy premier, a position also held by Prince Mohammed Bin Naif.
The appointment is seen as a critical element of the process of generational renewal within the Saudi system of government since King Salman’s succession and one maintains a balance at the top between his descendants and those of Prince Naif.