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Middle East: Two to Watch

2 minute read

Two of the Arab world’s most important monarchs last week chose new crown princes. The conscientious kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan both bypassed younger brothers (both named Mohammed) to name more sobersided brothers who are younger still.

> Jordan’s plucky King Hussein, 29, ignored his tantrum-prone younger brother Mohammed, 24, to bestow the title of Crown Prince on Prince Hassan, a gifted Harrow graduate who is already enrolled at Oxford at the age of 17. By so doing, Hussein took the crown rights from his own infant son, three-year-old Prince Abdullah. He feared Jordanians would reject Abdullah as King because the child’s mother, Princess Muna (formerly Toni Gardner), was a British commoner. After the decision was announced, Princess Muna flew abruptly to Britain for a “medical checkup,” taking Abdullah and his little brother with her. It was her second trip home to see the doctor within a month, but spokesmen at Hussein’s palace in Amman denied that there was marital trouble in the royal household.

> Saudi Arabia’s sad-eyed King Feisal, 61—who succeeded profligate King Saud only last November—skipped Prince Mohammed ibn Abdul Aziz, 57, and picked shy Prince Khaled ibn Abdul Aziz, 55, as his eventual successor. The passed-over prince is a cheerful bon vivant, who himself suggested that Khaled be named the royal heir—and was reportedly rewarded with more than $1,000,000 for his unselfishness. Khaled, who is known as “the quiet one,” has assisted Feisal at international conferences, currently is Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Premier. A painfully shy, hardworking administrator, he is an expert hunter, relaxes by competing in camel-milk-drinking contests with Arabian desert tribes.

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