New York Times Beirut bureau chief Ben Hubbard ’99 conducted hundreds of interviews over seven years for MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman. The book tracks the trajectory of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, a largely mysterious figure who has rapidly asserted his control over the kingdom’s oil, finances, military, and domestic and foreign policy.
Hubbard, who speaks Arabic and has covered coups, civil wars, protests and more in the Middle East and North Africa, sought to provide a multifaceted picture of the prince and the kingdom itself. “It is true that [bin Salman]is a social reformer and that he is changing things in Saudi Arabia,” Hubbard says. “It’s also true that he’s a very authoritarian character. Those things can be true at the same time, and I think you have to understand that they fit together to really get a picture of who he is and where he might take Saudi Arabia in the future.”