By Sarah Taylor ’16
This past January King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia’s king of 20 years, passed away. Replacing him is the aging octogenarian Crown Prince Salman, now King Salman. Before he became king, in the 1980s, Prince Salman, with the help of private Saudi investors, funded the Afghan mujahedeen in the early stages of the Afghan war against the Soviet Union. From 1963-2015 he served as governor of Riyad where he saw the city’s population grow from 200,000 to 7 million. There he made a reputation for himself as a clear, effective leader, more-or-less immune to the scandal that plagues his relatives. What remains to be seen is if King Salman, stuck between his country’s religious elite and reformist youth, will maintain his political legitimacy all while bringing Saudi Arabia into the 21st century.