Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been voted Time magazine readers’ Person of the Year by a large margin.
Despite the prince’s victory among readers, the readers’ Person of the Year and the Person of the Year selected by Time who receives the coveted magazine cover are often different.
The 32 year old prince, often referred to as MBS, has received jubilant praise by many for his apparent desire to reform Saudi Arabia’s monarchy that is widely considered to be one of the most brutal and repressive governments on the planet.
The magazine’s Person of the Year award goes to the person who influenced the year “for better or for worse.” MBS snagged 24 percent of the vote while the second place contender, the #MeToo movement against sexual assault and misconduct, had only 6 percent.
Other contenders for the coveted honor were Colin Kapernick, the former San Francisco quarterback who began the #takeaknee campaign; Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to investigate U.S. President Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election; and the Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were born in or brought to the U.S. as children and are under attack by the policies of Trump’s administration.
MBS has won praise in publications like the New York Times, where columnist Thomas L. Friedman expressed enthusiastic approval of the young prince. He has made gestures such as allowing women to legally drive, lessening the role of Saudi Arabia’s religious police in society, and promising to turn the country into a mechanized utopia.
Despite this, the prince has led the charge for the kingdom’s illegal intervention in Yemen which has been universally decried by the UN and the international community. Saudi Arabia has been accused of committing acts in Yemen that may be considered war crimes. The kingdom chairs the UN’s commission for human rights.
Other moves have been taken under the prince’s directive such as the blockade on Qatar and increasing pressure against Lebanon to eliminate supposed Iranian influence.
In November, the prince headed a wide anti-corruption mission that saw the arrest of around 200 business and political elites. Many were beaten and forced to relinquish up to 70 percent of their wealth in exchange for freedom.
RT spoke to Apester, a U.S.-Israeli company responsible for managing Time’s reader poll, to see if the poll was prone to bot voting or other subversive acts:
“We do have a few security measurements which are also backed with people from our team who monitored the voting 24/7 - including the traffic origins and voting trends,” Apester’s Adir Ben Yehuda told RT. “We fully understand that this is a very sensitive subject and Time Inc. are good partners of ours , so we did took extra safety measurements,” the company said.