ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Āl Saʿūd MP

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Birthdate: (89)
Birthplace: Riyadh, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Occupation: King of Saudi Arabia
Managed by: Ric Dickinson
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Āl Saʿūd

Golden Fleece - Knights: Spanish Branch

King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, (Arabic: عبد الله بن عبد العزيز آل سعود‎) Full name King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Bin Abdulrahman Bin Faisal Bin Turki Bin Abdullah Bin Muhammad Bin Saud. He was born in 1924.

King Abdullah is the current King of Saudi Arabia. He succeeded to the throne upon the death of his half-brother, King Fahd, on August 1, 2005. Before as Crown Prince, he governed Saudi Arabia as regent from 1996 to 2005. He is one of the world's wealthiest men. He was Commander of Saudi Arabian National Guard from 1962 to November 2010.

  • Father : King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia 1876-1953
  • Mother: Fahda bint Asi Al Shuraim
  • King Abdullah has had more than thirty wives, and has fathered at least thirty-five children.

Second Deputy Prime Minister

King Khalid appointed Abdullah as Second Deputy Prime Minister. In succession terms, he was therefore notionally Crown Prince in waiting. The appointment of Abdullah as second deputy prime minister became increasingly contentious within the royal family. Some princes were said to prefer Fahd's brother Sultan, who had served as minister of defense and aviation since 1962, as next in line instead of Abdullah. Fahd himself was believed to prefer Sultan as well and Sultan was backed by his other full brothers, known as Sudairi Seven after the tribe of their mother. Together they were the largest single group of full brothers among the sons of Ibn Saud and often appeared to act as a group; Ibn Saud’s other wives had produced only three, two, or a single son, as was the case with Abdullah. Whether Abdullah should be pressed to give up command of the SANG as the price for his appointment was the subject of family debate. Abdullah resisted this notion, not having a full brother to whom he could have passed the role. He also felt that if he himself lacked command of the SANG forces, Sultan, as minister of defense, would be physically able to stop him from succeeding to the throne. The issue of Abdullah retaining the command of the SANG was reportedly debated in Riyadh by 250 princes in August 1977. At the meeting, or around this time, Fahd is said to have offered to appoint Abdullah as his crown prince, after Khalid’s eventual death, but only if Abdullah agreed to give up control of the national guard. Under the proposal, the SANG would either stay as a separate force, but under the command of Prince Salman (another of Fahd’s full brothers), or be integrated into the regular armed forces under Sultan. Abdullah rejected the offer, however, and the line of succession remained unresolved.

Crown Prince

In May 1982, when Khalid died, Fahd was proclaimed king by senior princes led by Prince Muhammad, and the new king nominated Abdullah as crown prince the same day. As Crown Prince, he had acted as de facto regent ruler of Saudi Arabia since January 1, 1996, when King Fahd was incapacitated by a major stroke. In August 2001, he ordered Ambassador Bandar bin Sultan to return to Washington. The Crown Prince had reportedly seen on television an Israeli soldier pushing an elderly Palestinian woman. When she fell, she grabbed the soldier's leg and he stepped on her. The Crown Prince, reportedly in a rage, called Bandar. "This is it. Those bastards!" he yelled, according to an account that Bandar has given associates. "Even women-they're stepping all over them." He reportedly ordered Bandar to deliver a message: Starting today, you go your way and we will go our way. From then on, the Saudis would look out for their own national interests. The Crown Prince later stated he was deeply disturbed by the "continued Israeli actions, horrible actions, as if Jewish blood is not equal to Palestinian"-in particular, the practice of punishing the families of people suspected of committing terrorist acts. "We wonder how the American people would have accepted the President of the United States ordering all the McVeigh family houses to be destroyed or burning their farms," he said, referring to the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. On the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States, the then-prince wrote a letter to then U.S. President George W. Bush, which ended with:

"God Almighty, in His wisdom, tests the faithful by allowing such calamities to happen. But He, in His mercy, also provides us with the will and determination, generated by faith, to enable us to transform such tragedies into great achievements, and crises that seem debilitating are transformed into opportunities for the advancement of humanity. I only hope that, with your cooperation and leadership, a new world will emerge out of the rubble of the World Trade Center: a world that is blessed by the virtues of freedom, peace, prosperity and harmony."

King of Saudi Arabia

He was formally enthroned on August 3, 2005. At age 86, he is one of the world's oldest reigning monarchs. He has topped the 500 Most Influential Muslims list for two consecutive years in 2009 and 2010.

Domestic Affairs

King Abdullah has recently implemented many reform measures. He has re-shuffled the Ministry of Education's leadership in February 2009 by bringing in the King's pro-reform son-in-law as the new minister. He has done a top-to-bottom restructuring of the country's courts to introduce, among other things, review of judicial decisions and more professional training for Shari'a judges. He has been responsible for the creation of a new investment promotion agency to overhaul the once-convoluted process of starting a business in Saudi Arabia. He has created a regulatory body for capital markets. He has promoted the construction of the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (the country's new flagship and controversially-coed institution for advanced scientific research). He has done a substantial budgetary investment in educating the workforce for future jobs. The Saudi government is also encouraging the development of non-hydrocarbon sectors in which the Kingdom has a comparative advantage, including mining, solar energy, and religious tourism. The Kingdom's 2010 budget reflects these priorities—about 25 percent is devoted to education alone—and amounts to a significant economic stimulus package. In 2005, King Abdullah implemented a government scholarship program to send young Saudi men and women to Western universities for undergraduate and postgraduate studies. The program offers funds for tuition and living expenses up to four years. It is estimated that more than 70 thousand students have studied abroad in more than 25 countries. United States, England, and Australia are the top three destinations mostly aimed for by the young Saudi students. There are now more than 22,000 Saudi students studying in the US, exceeding pre-9/11 levels. Public health engagement has included breast cancer awareness and CDC cooperation to set up an advanced epidemic screening network that protected this year's 3 million Hajj pilgrims. The response of King Abdullah's administration to homegrown terrorism has been a series of crackdowns including raids by security forces, arrests, torture and public beheadings. King Abdullah has vowed to fight terrorist ideologies within the country. He has made the protection of Saudi Arabia's critical infrastructure a top security priority. King Abdullah's strategy against terrorism has been two-pronged: he has attacked the roots of the extremism that fed Al-Qaida through education and judicial reforms to weaken the influence of the most reactionary elements of Saudi Arabia's religious establishment. He is also promoting economic diversification. The King is keenly aware of the urgent need to make Saudi education more relevant to today's workplace and increase the role of women in the economy.

Interfaith Dialogue

In November 2007, King Abdullah visited Pope Benedict XVI in the Apostolic Palace. He is the first Saudi monarch to visit the Pope. In March 2008, King Abdullah called for a “brotherly and sincere dialogue between believers from all religions.” In June 2008, King Abdullah held a conference at Mecca to urge Muslim leaders to speak with one voice with Jewish and Christian leaders. He discussed and took approval of the Saudi Islamic scholars and the world's renowned Islamic scholars to hold the interfaith dialogue. In the same month, Saudi Arabia and Spain agreed to hold the interfaith dialogue in Spain. The historic conference finally took place in Madrid in July 2008 where religious leaders of different faiths participated. King Abdullah had never earlier made any overtures for dialogue with eastern religious leaders such as Hindus and Buddhists. The Mecca conference discussed an important paper on the dialogue with the followers of monotheistic religions highlighting the monotheistic religions of southeast Asia including Sikhism in the third axis of the fourth meeting titled "With Whom We Talk" presented by Sheikh Badrul Hasan Al Qasimi. The session was chaired by Dr. Ezz Eddin Ibrahim, Adviser to the President of the United Arab Emirates for Culture. The session also discussed a paper presented on coordination among Islamic institutions on Dialogue by Dr. Abdullah bin Omar Nassif, Secretary General of the World Islamic Council for Preaching and Relief and a paper on dialogue with divine messages, presented by Professor Mohammad Sammak - Secretary General of the Islamic Spiritual Summit in Lebanon. The session ended by Sheikh Al Fadel Alzafzaaf, Under Secretary-Azhar and Chairman of the Committee for dialogue among religions formerly, Cairo discussing the future of dialogue in the light of repeated abuse to Islam. On November 2008, King Abdullah and his government were responsible for the 'Peace of Culture' which took place at the United Nations General Assembly. It brought together Muslim and non-Muslim nations to eradicate the preconception of Islam and Terrorism. It brought together leaders including former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair, Israeli President Shimon Peres, former U.S. President George W. Bush and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

United States

In October 1976, as Prince Abdullah was being trained for greater responsibility in Riyadh, he was sent to the United States to meet with President Gerald Ford. He again traveled to the United States as Crown Prince in October 1987, meeting Vice President George H. W. Bush. In September 1998, Crown Prince Abdullah made a state visit to the United States to meet in Washington, D.C. with President Bill Clinton. In September 2000, he attended millennium celebrations at the United Nations in New York City. In April 2002, Crown Prince Abdullah made a state visit to the United States with President George W. Bush and he returned again in April 2005 with Bush. In April 2009, at a summit for world leaders U.S. President Barack Obama met him. In June 2009, Abdullah hosted President Obama in Saudi Arabia. In turn, Obama hosted Abdullah at the White House in the same month. He likes President Obama a lot. "Thank God for bringing Obama to the presidency," he said, adding that Obama's election created "great hope" in the Muslim world. He stated, "We (the U.S. and Saudi Arabia) spilled blood together" in Kuwait and Iraq and Saudi Arabia valued this tremendously and friendship can be a difficult issue that requires work but the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have done it for 70 years over three generations. "Our disagreements don't cut to the bone," he stated. Abdullah said that "it was a mistake" to limit access of Saudi citizens to the U.S.

Iraq

The Bush Administration ignored advice from the King and Foreign Minister against invading Iraq. However, other sources say that many Arab governments were only nominally opposed to the Iraq invasion because of popular hostility. Before becoming king, Abdullah was thought to be completely against the U.S. invasion of Iraq; this, however, was not the case. Riyadh provided essential support to the United States during the war and proved that "necessity does lead to some accommodations from time to time." The King expressed a complete lack of trust in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and held out little hope for improved Saudi-Iraqi relations as long as al-Maliki remains in office. King Abdullah told an Iraqi official about Nouri al-Maliki, “You and Iraq are in my heart, but that man is not.”

Iran

In April 2008, King Abdullah told US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and US General David Petraeus to "cut off the head of the snake". Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir recalled the King's frequent exhortations to the US to attack Iran and to put an end to its nuclear weapons program." Abdullah asserted that Iran is trying to set up Hezbollah-like organizations in African countries, observing that the Iranians don't think they are doing anything wrong and don't recognize their mistakes. He said the Iranians "launch missiles with the hope of putting fear in people and the world." The King described his conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki as "a heated exchange, frankly discussing Iran's interference in Arab affairs." When challenged by the King on Iranian meddling in Hamas affairs, Mottaki apparently protested that "these are Muslims." "No, Arabs" countered the King, "You as Persians have no business meddling in Arab matters." Abdullah said he would favor Rafsanjani in an Iranian election. The King told General Jones that Iranian internal turmoil presented an opportunity to weaken the regime—which he encouraged—but he also urged that this be done covertly and stressed that public statements in support of the reformers were counterproductive. The King assessed that sanctions could help weaken the government, but only if they are strong and sustained. In 2006, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei had sent his adviser Ali Akbar Velayati with a letter asking for Abdullah's agreement to establish a formal back channel for communication between the two leaders. Abdullah said he had agreed, and the channel was established with Velayati and Saud al-Faisal as the points of contact. In the years since, the King noted, the channel had never been used.

Guantanamo Bay

In March 2009, King Abdullah proposed implanting Guantanamo detainees with a chip that contained their personal information before authorities tracked their movements using Bluetooth technology. he stated that "keeping track of detainees was an extremely important issue" and promised to review such a suggestion with "appropriate officials" when he returned to the United States. In December 2010 it was released that Abdullah wanted all detainees released from the Guantánamo Bay prison to be tracked through an implanted microchip, according to the leaked diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks. The King made the private suggestion during a meeting in March last year in Riyadh with John Brennan, the White House counter-terrorism adviser. Mr Brennan replied that "horses don't have good lawyers" and that such a proposal would "face legal hurdles" in the United States. In the same cables it was revealed that he also privately urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear weapons programme.

China

Since King Abdullah's visit to Beijing in January 2006, the Saudi-Chinese relationship has focused predominantly on energy and trade. Bilateral trade with China has more than tripled, and China will soon be Saudi Arabia's largest importer. Saudi Arabia has also committed significant investments in China, including the $8 billion Fujian refinery. The King has told the Chinese that it is willing to effectively trade a guaranteed oil supply in return for Chinese pressure on Iran not to develop nuclear weapons.

Foreign Relations With Other Nations

In a November 2009, the King was received by Nicolas Sarkozy who committed various diplomatic faux pas. The diplomatic relationship Jacques Chirac had with Saudi Arabia was not evident with Sarkozy.

Criticism

On February 16, 2003, Parade Magazine's David Wallechinsky rated King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah as the second worst dictator in the world.[30] In a slight rebuff to accusations of human rights violations, Saudi inmates of Najran sent the King well-wishes from jail and wished him a speedy recovery. Wallechinsky has been criticized for opinionated slanted studies and his report was widely criticized. On January 24, 2007, Human Rights Watch sent an open letter to King Abdullah asking him to cease religious persecution of the Ahmadi faith in Saudi Arabia. Two letters were sent in November 2006 and February 2007 asking him to remove the travel ban on critics of the Saudi government. Human Rights Watch has not yet indicated whether they have received any response to these letters. On October 30, 2007, during a state visit to the United Kingdom, Abdullah was greeted by protesters accusing him of being a "murderer" and a "torturer". Concerns were raised in the UK about the treatment of women and homosexuals by the Saudi kingdom. Concerns were also raised over alleged bribes involving arms deals between Saudi Arabia and the UK.

Future successors to the Royal Throne

King Abdullah is 86 this year, but his half brother and designated successor, Crown Prince Sultan, is 82. The apparent next in line is Sultan's full brother, Prince Nayef. In 2006, Abdullah set up the Allegiance Council, a body that is composed of the sons and grandsons of Saudi Arabia's founder, King Abdulaziz, to vote by a secret ballot to choose future kings and crown princes. The council's mandate will not start until after the reigns of Abdullah and Sultan are over. It is not clear, however, what would happen if Sultan were to die before the end of Abdullah's reign, leaving a question as to whether the council would vote for a new crown prince or whether Nayef would automatically fill that position. On November 2010, Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz chaired a cabinet meeting because of the deterioration of the King's health During the same month, King Abdullah transferred his duties as Commander of the Saudi National Guard to his son Prince Mutaib. Abdullah is credited with building up the once largely ceremonial unit into a modern 260,000-strong force that is a counterweight to the army. The Guard, which was Abdullah's original power base, protects the royal family. This was suggested as an apparent sign that the elderly monarch is beginning to lessen some of his duties.

Various Positions

King Abdullah was Commander of the Saudi National Guard from 1963 to 2010. He is Chairman of the Supreme Economic Council, President of the High Council for Petroleum and Minerals, President of the King Abdulaziz Centre for National Dialogue, Chairman of the Council of Civil Service, and head of the Military Service Council.

Personal life

Abdullah is the fifth son (out of 37 sons) of King Abdulaziz, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, to ascend to the throne. He is, after his half-brothers Bandar and Musa'id, the third eldest of the living sons of Abdul Aziz ibn Saud. Abdullah's mother is from the Rashid clan, longtime rivals of the Saud. He has 6 sons and 15 daughters. His youngest son is just seven years old. His daughter Adila is married to Prince Faisal bin Abdullah bin Muhammad, the new Education Minister appointed in 2009. Adila is one of the few Saudi princesses with a semi-public role and a known advocate of women's right to drive.

Health

The king had curtailed his activities since June 2010 with no clear explanation. Diplomats said there has been uncertainty about the extent of his health problems since Abdullah canceled a visit to France. In a television appearance in which he was seen to use a cane, King Abdullah said he was in good health but had something "bothering" him. In November 2010, King Abdullah's back problems came to light in the media. On November 19, the king underwent tests at King Faisal hospital in Riyadh after a new flare-up of pain. Official reports said he had an "accumulation of blood" around the spinal cord. Abdullah suffered from a herniated disc and was told to rest by doctors.On November 20, an expected—but never officially announced—visit by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak became a phone call between the two leaders instead. On November 22, King Abdullah was admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital after a blood clot complicated a slipped disc. On November 24, King Abdullah underwent successful back surgery. The surgeons probably removed the herniated disk and performed a lumbar fusion. A top Saudi official says the kingdom's ruler is walking again following a successful back operation. He had another surgery in which surgeons "stabilized a number of vertebras" on December 3. He left the hospital on December 21 and is convalescing at the New York Plaza Hotel. His first significant event as he underwent recovery was in a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on January 8, 2011. Saudi authorities have been unusually open in going public with the king's condition, apparently in an effort to prevent any speculation and reassure allies of the key Mideast nation and oil power. Personal issues within the royal family are often kept under strict wraps. To maintain the Kingdom's stability Crown Prince Sultan returned from Morocco in the meantime.

Philanthropy

  • King Abdullah paid for the separation surgery of a pair of Polish conjoined twins, which took place at the King Abd al-Aziz Medical City in Riyadh on January 3, 2005. He was given "honorary citizenship" by the Polish town of Janikowo, where the twins were born. March 18, 2005 was awarded Order of the Smile (which he earned during his visit in Poland in 2007).
  • He has established two libraries, the King Abdulaziz Library in Riyadh and another in Casablanca, Morocco.
  • He donated over $300,000 to furnish a New Orleans high school rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina.
  • He has donated $50 million in cash and $10 million worth of relief materials for the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China.
  • He donated $10 billion to the endowment fund of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in May 2008.
  • He established the King Abdullah University (Rawalakot) in Pakistan's Azad Jammu & Kashmir after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake.

Wealth

His wealth and personal income is estimated at $21 billion.

Links

Equestrian Club of Riyadh http://www.frusiya.com/english/home_en2.asp

Saudi king details succession law http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7035991.stm

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Abdullah ibn Abd al-Aziz Al Saʿud, King of Saudi Arabia's Timeline

1924
August 1, 1924
Riyadh, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia