Prince Muqrin: A pilot, an astronomer and a politician
Just a few days ago, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah issued a royal decree to appoint Prince Muqrin as the second deputy premier. The appointment makes him the third most important person in the decision-making in the Kingdom. Prince Muqrin is a very energetic man who was born in Riyadh in 1945 and he is the youngest son of the founder of modern day Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz Al-Saud.
Prince Muqrin showed an interest in leadership and discipline at a very early age. When he was young and studying at the Riyadh Model Institute, he was one of the most active students in many fields. Apart from being involved in many activities, he was also one of the school’s Boys Scouts.
When he graduated from Riyadh school, he joined the Royal Saudi Air Force and later on he pursued his advanced aviation program in the United Kingdom. He graduated as an air force officer and became one of the most professional pilots who flew many types of aircraft and served in various air force bases around the Kingdom.
Many people in the Eastern Province remember him, especially the Saudi Air Force personnel who worked with him or under his command at King Abdulaziz Air Base in Dhahran. His attitude and charisma made hard work fun. Many Saudi Air Force pilots at that time remembered his style and approach to do the pre-flight and post-flight briefs. And he was mostly known for punctuality and deep knowledge of all the details.
In 1980, Prince Muqrin retired from the Saudi Air Force and hang up his flight suit. He started carrying out his civilian duties after being transferred to Hail as governor of the province known for its rich historical heritage.
In 1999, he left Hail province and was appointed as the governor of Al-Madinah province. Many staff in Hail and Al-Madinah governorates still remember his approach to modern-day management. He used his military background and deep knowledge of technology to implement many modern-day equipment in all government agencies. All the people in the governor’s office were required to use the latest 21st century form of management. He had ordered all government agencies to break away from the normal bureaucratic procedures of work and make computers every government worker’s office tool.
One of the many things people remember about Prince Muqrin is seeing the governor pursue one of his many hobbies — astronomy. He owned one of the most modern-day telescopes and had an observatory at his residence and became one of the most famous Saudis in star watching. The prince was in love with the science of astronomy. But at the end of his career as governor he donated the telescope and all the accessories of the observatory to one of the Saudi universities.
In the 2005, he was assigned to one of the most delicate positions when he became Chief of General Intelligence. His charisma and military background were very important assets for him to take the agency to new levels of advancements and achievements at a time when the world was still recovering from many tragic events that changed the global policies and world politics. In July 2012 he left the intelligence agency and was made the special envoy to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques with the rank of a minister.
There are many fond memories of Prince Muqrin among the many military personal because he always made difficult tasks look easy. I still remember the time when Prince Muqrin was the governor of Al-Madinah, I was told a story by one of the Saudi F-15 pilots about the day when Prince Muqrin wanted to fly the F-15 to maintain his flying skills. That day, his co-pilot was the young and handsome prince, Prince Mohammed bin Faisal, the son of the governor of Al-Qassim. Prince Mohammed told us that Prince Muqrin took control and flew the hottest aircraft in the world, breaking the sound barrier at 500 feet above ground level and made very hard and demanding maneuvers. Prince Muqrin still maintains the skills of a very experienced pilot. Later on, I saw a portrait of Prince Muqrin and Prince Mohammed bin Faisal, both standing next to one of the Saudi Air Force F-15 minutes before their supersonic flight.
As for myself, I only met Prince Muqrin once. And it was by chance. I was just walking around in a Mc Lean, Virginia’s hotel lobby and the minute I got into the elevator, I was face to face with one the most known former military officers in the Kingdom. In a very modest gesture, Prince Muqrin gave me a smile and we shook hands. I gave him the Saudi traditional form of respect. I gave him a kiss on his right shoulder, and I introduced myself to him as a former Saudi Navy Commodore. He asked me if I needed anything, and I politely said, your highness, having the honor to meet you today, simply made my day. I thanked him for his kindness, and we both went our own way. But at the end of the day, I was glad I met the man, who would be in later months, the second deputy premier of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.