In the past few years, a new generation of princes have come to power in the worlds richest oil-producing monarchies: Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. While their predecessors maintained a cordial relationship between the three states, the princes have become bitter rivals, competing with each other over everything from sports and culture to armaments. Their ramped-up rivalry threatens a region already destabilised by years of conflict.
Between 2013 and 2015, three princes started governing the Gulf monarchies: Tamim Al Thani in Qatar, Mohammed Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia and Mohammed Bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi. The sovereigns, who are among the richest and most powerful in the world, quickly imposed new, more violent, styles of rule.
Tamim Al Thani, the 39-year-old emir of Qatar, was the first of the three to ascend his throne. Al Thani is a sports fanatic and sparked the envy of his competitive neighbours when Qatar won the honour of hosting 2022 FIFA World Cup. His rivals also accuse him of financing Islamist groups and for keeping too close a company with Iran.
Al Thani is up against a powerful duo, however. Mohammed Bin Salman, or “MBS”, is the ambitious 34-year-old crown prince of Saudi Arabia. With a penchant for video games, MBS is responsible for his countrys costly and deadly involvement in the war in Yemen. With the ambition of becoming the Middle Easts new strongman, MBS has found his ally and mentor in Mohammed Bin Zayed, or “MBZ”. MBZ is the 58-year-old crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the ruler of the United Arab Emirates. MBZs tiny nation is now one of the main military powerhouses in the Arabian Peninsula.