Mohamed bin Salman it has been revealed is the owner of the Château de Louveciennes, in western suburbs of Paris, which he bought for $300m two years ago. Added to his purchase of a $450m yacht and most recently the Leonardo painting of Christ for similar amount, bought through a minor prince in his household (Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud), this completes a fairly complete psychological profile of the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.
Given what we know of MbS from these facts, a clear avaricious streak in his personality allows us to interpret recent actions taken against the rich in his country, including members of his family, as a desire to “own” Saudi Arabia singly. Together with his vicious launching of the Yemen War and his ill treatment of the Yemeni population, it is also clear he has little or no empathy. With no counter-balancing forces within the atavistic Saudi polity a ruthless and coercive tyranny is unfolding, which is unlikely to garner legitimacy whether by sticking to traditional Islamic modalities or indeed attempting to move on to more “secular” modalities.
In fact, the announcement that MbS seeks a more secular Saudi Arabia is tied to his wish to sideline resistance, but as the Wahhabi establishment will merely now roll over and do whatever he wishes, it is likely that the potentially destabilising effects of a move towards secularism, will be followed by a harsh return to such traditional Saudi-Islamic mores that help reinforce tyranny. Instinctively MbS is expecting the US and Israel to provide the support for his rule, where legitimacy will be absent. This will reinforce the decline of American influence in the region and reaffirm the continuing rise of Iran.