Flush With Cash, Arab Royals Pave Path Of Modernity

In line with the royal family's emphasis on education -- Qatar is home to outposts of Cornell University and Texas A&M -- the Qatari princess went to college at Duke University in North Carolina and is now pursuing a masters at Columbia University in New York. Her activism that earns comparisons to her mother, First Lady Sheikha Mozah, and the princess is a patron of the new Museum of Islamic Art, which opened in November in the capital city of Doha.

The Middle East's most famous royals, King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan, have no official successor for now. The Kingdom is without a crown prince, and the presumed next in line is the royal couple's teenage son, Prince Hussein. As for the region's largest monarchy, the heir to the throne in the petroleum powerhouse of Saudi Arabia is no young royal. Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, son of the country's founder, is well into his 80s.   "There certainly are up and coming young princes -- most of the provinces of Saudi Arabia are governed by young princes… At the ministries you have young princes shadowing and working alongside their fathers," said Robert Lacey, an ABC News consultant and expert on the Saudi Arabia.

"But it still remains the case that the ruling generation in Saudi Arabia -- the generation that counts -- is the senior generation, the sons of King Abdulaziz," Lacey said, referring to the country's founder and adding that there are more than a dozen living sons eligible for the throne.

The diverse monarchies of the Arab world have much in common in terms of the challenges they inherit, including a young population facing high unemployment, pockets of poverty and underdevelopment, and militant Islam threatening the region's stability.

To maintain their power and public loyalty they must all do the same: assert their authority and use it well.

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