Mohammed bin Salman walked around the roof of the Kaaba, often called the House of Allah, a cube-shaped building at the centre of the Great Mosque in Mecca, one of the holiest cities for Muslims.
As the son of Saudi King Salman, whose formal title is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (in Mecca and Medina), the crown prince was there to inspect the construction work underway to renovate and expand the gigantic complex surrounding the Kaaba.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made an unannounced visit to Holy Mecca where he was briefed on an expansion project. He also prayed inside the Kaaba and performed the traditional washing of the holy site.https://t.co/wM3wFUvw1y pic.twitter.com/pFxrZYewt8— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) 12 February 2019
Prince Salman’s visit to the holy site has, however, frustrated some social media users:
#MBS is currently in Mecca to discuss a future holy mosque expanding project. This isn’t surprising considering the backlash MBS has been receiving due to his liberation reforms.— Amani Al-Ahmadi | أماني الأحمدي (@amani_aal) 12 February 2019
More publicity stunts designed to boost his image with Islamists.
One netizen shared a piece of advice to the crown prince, suggesting he should stick to Niccolo Machiavelli’s characterisation of a prince:
Mohammed bin Salman, sometimes referred to as MBS, is widely known as a proponent of liberal reforms in the kingdom: he presented his own vision of the country’s future in the project called Vision 2030. It envisages opportunities for everyone to have access to education, high quality services, health, housing, jobs and entertainment.
Last year, the crown prince found himself at the epicentre of global attention after Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist of Saudi descent, was killed in the Saudi Consulate General in Istanbul, Turkey.
Responding to speculations linking Prince Salman to the killing of the journalist, Riyadh vehemently denied the royal family’s involvement in the tragic incident, stressing that it was a “rogue operation”, and launched an investigation into the murder.