Time Magazine unveiled its “100 Most Influential People” list on Thursday, celebrating pioneers in the entertainment, politics, sports, technology, and activism industries. Among those on the list is Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman. The young royal joins the likes of Tarana Burke, activist and founder of #MeToo, Jennifer Lopez, Tiffany Haddish, and Nicole Kidman, who were all honored with their own covers. Others who made the cut include Cardi B, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Elon Musk, Donald Trump, and Millie Bobby Brown, who became the youngest person to make the list.
“TIME’S annual list of the world’s most influential people is a designation of individuals whose time, in our estimation, is now,” writes Edward Felsenthal, Time Magazine’s editor-in-chief. “The TIME 100 isn’t a measure of power, though many on the list wield it. Nor is it a collection of milestones accumulated. As our staff considers candidates, we often find ourselves wowed by those with stunning lifetime achievements. But editorial director Dan Macsai, maestro of the TIME 100, brings us back to the key question: Was this their year?”
Indeed, it’s been quite the year for Bin Salman, also known as MBS. The 32-year-old— who is the son of the current monarch— was named the crown prince in June 2017. Since then, he has revealed ambitious goals for the kingdom in his Vision 2030 plan, which focuses on modernizing the Saudi Arabian culture, moving the kingdom towards a more tolerant form of Islam, diversifying the economy away from oil, and encouraging foreign investment.
During his leadership, the crown prince has made history by lifting the longstanding bans on female drivers, women attending sporting matches, and public cinemas. As of June 2018, women in the ultra-conservative kingdom will be able to get behind the wheel for the first time in decades. Meanwhile, last Wednesday, the country launched its first ever movie theater in Riyadh, marking the end of the kingdom’s 35-year ban on public cinemas. In line with his plans to modernize the Gulf country and ease restrictions on women residing in the kingdom, MBS also declared that women in Saudi Arabia no longer need to wear an abaya as long as their attire is “decent and respectful” in a wide-ranging interview with CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell on 60 Minutes.
In an accompanying write-up on Time, Manal Al-Sharif, a women’s right activist who was jailed in 2011 for driving a car in Saudi Arabia writes: “At first I was skeptical of the prince’s Vision 2030 plan to modernize our kingdom. I have come around. Most Saudis are under age 30, and have only known elderly rulers. Now a major leader is our peer. I want to see the changes lead to political reforms, even a constitutional monarchy and full freedom of expression. If MBS would do that, my hopes for a better Saudi Arabia are bigger than the sky.”