Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Claim to Fame in 2017
The people have spoken and have settled on a decision. They’ve crowned Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman as Time magazine’s 2017 “Person of the Year” in an online reader poll. The decision was announced this week by Time and disseminated to press outlets worldwide. But does this mean Time has made a final decision?
The simple answer to the above question is no. Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman has not been crowned Time‘s 2017 Person of the Year. He has only been designated as such by Time readers, not the publication itself. Time editors make the ultimate selection for Person of the Year, and that hasn’t happened yet.
As Time explains, the readers’ choice has not necessarily carried over to Person of the Year in previous years. Most recently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won the online reader poll in 2016, but the award ultimately went to Donald Trump. In 2015, Bernie Sanders was favored among readers, but ceded the award to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the end. (Source: “Here’s the Winner of the Reader Poll for TIME’s 2017 Person of the Year,” Time, December 4, 2017.)
Obviously, the Time readers’ poll is just a marketing scheme to drum up interest for the publication. It’s a rather good one at that. Tens of thousands of voters chime in worldwide, casting votes even if their views hold little sway. The value of the readers’ poll is that it demonstrates who the “people’s choice” really is, without the politicizing that often accompanies the actual decision.
Perhaps the most surprising part about this year’s poll is the margin of victory that Mohammed bin Salman was afforded. He lapped the field four times over. The margin of victory is so stunning that one can’t help but wonder if vote rigging was involved. I don’t have any evidence of that, nor do I think that it’s likely. But it was a decisive victory for a man who definitely deserved serious consideration.
Time 2017 Person of the Year Readers’ Poll Top 14
|Mohammed bin Salman||24%|
|Carmen Yulin Cruz||4%|
Crown Prince Grabbed World Headlines With His Incredibly Bold Royal Crackdown
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is many things. He’s the first deputy prime minister of Saudi Arabia, a position which carries big weight in the kingdom. He’s the president of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs. He’s also the youngest defense minister in the world.
He’s undoubtedly one of the most important power brokers in Saudi Arabia. His actions, deeds, and words carry about as much weight as any in the desert kingdom, a point which became universally apparent last month.
That’s when bin Salman undertook perhaps one of the boldest political maneuvers in recent memory. On November 4, he allegedly ordered a sudden and dramatic wave of arrests to crack down on widespread corruption. While bin Salman was not formally named as the instigator of the purge, the fact that he had just become the head of a new anti-corruption committee leaves little doubt about his involvement.
The arrests involved a literal Who’s Who list of the most influential people in Saudi Arabia, allowing bin Salman to consolidate his power and confiscate ill-gotten wealth to replenish the nation’s dwindling foreign reserves. Whatever your opinion on the matter, it was a bold initiative that carried the risk of blowback for many years to come.
Mohammed bin Salman is also an instrumental mastermind in Saudi Arabia’s three-pronged approach to eradicating terrorism through digital, ideological, and military fronts. This has even included a strategic partnership with Israel, Saudi Arabia’s long-time arch foe. More than the corruption purge itself, readers have likely responded to bin Salman’s overtures of peace in the Middle East, real or perceived. These policies have long been sought but never realized—until now.
Whether Mohammed bin Salman ultimately wins Time‘s 2017 Person of the Year remains to be seen. Right now, he’s simply the readers’ choice and not the official selection. But that’s still an amazing honor, and it can be argued that the readers’ choice is the most prestigious, because it is derived from voters around the world, as opposed to a relatively small editorial board.