Scope of Project
This project identifies individuals belonging to the royal House of Saud.
The House of Saud (Arabic: آل سعود; romanized Āl Suʿūd) is the royal family of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The modern nation of Saudi Arabia was established in 1931, though the roots and influence for the House of Saud had been planted in the Arabian Peninsula several centuries earlier. Prior to the era of the Kingdom's founder, Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud, the family had ruled the Nejd and had conflicted on several occasions with the Ottoman Empire, the Sharif of Mecca, and the Al Rashid family of Ha'il. The House of Saud has gone through three phases: the First Saudi State, the Second Saudi State, and the modern nation of Saudi Arabia.
The history of the Al Saud has been marked by a desire to unify the Arabian Peninsula and to spread their particular version of Islam. The House of Saud defends the Salafi methodology of Islam, and is linked with the family of Shaykh Muhammad bin Abdul-Wahhab through the marriage of the son of Muhammad ibn Saud with the daughter of Muhammad Abd al Wahhab in 1744.
Though some have put the family's numbers as high as 25,000, most estimates place their numbers in the region of 7,000, with most power and influence being wielded by the 200 or so descendants of King Abdul Aziz.
The current head of the Al Saud and ruler of Saudi Arabia is King Abdullah ibn Abdul Aziz who announced, on 20 October 2006, the creation of a committee of princes to vote on the viability of kings and the candidature of nominated crown princes—in effect, clarifying and further defining the Al Saud's line of succession process. The committee, known as the Allegiance Commission, and chaired by Prince Mishaal ibn Abdul Aziz, gives each son (in case of their inability or death, their eligible son) of the late King Abdul-Aziz a single vote which would be used to confirm one of three princes nominated by the king to be named Crown Prince. In the event that either the sitting king or the crown prince were deemed unfit to rule, a five-member transitory council, appointed by the Council, would be empowered to run state affairs for one week before naming a successor. The intent is to prevent a situation as was the case with the late King Fahd, who suffered multiple strokes beginning in 1995 but remained on the throne for ten years, most of them without the faculties to rule.
The House of Saud take their name from Muhammad ibn Saud ("Muhammad, son of Saud"), the ruler of Diriyah in central Arabia, and the founder of what came to be known as the First Saudi State, who died in 1765. Because Muhammad ibn Saud was commonly known as "Ibn Saud" (son of Saud), the name "Al Saud", came to signify his clan. Today, the surname "Al Saud" is carried by any descendent of Muhammad ibn Saud or his brothers, Farhan (Al Farhan, "sons of Farhan"), Thunayyan, and Mishari.
Origins and early history
The earliest recorded ancestor of the Al Saud was Mani' ibn Rabi'ah al-Muraydi, who, according to the chroniclers of Nejd, settled in Diriyah in 1446–7 with his clan, the Mrudah. Mani had been invited to settle there by a relative named Ibn Dir', who was then the ruler of a set of villages and estates that make up modern-day Riyadh. Mani's clan had been on a sojourn in east Arabia, near al-Qatif, from an unknown point in time. Ibn Dir' handed Mani' two estates called al-Mulaybeed and Ghusayba, which Mani' and his family settled and renamed "al-Diriyah", after their benefactor Ibn Dir'.
The Mrudah became rulers of al-Diriyah, which prospered along the banks of Wadi Hanifa and became an important Nejdi settlement. As the clan grew larger, power struggles ensued, with one branch leaving to nearby Dhruma, while another branch (the "Al Watban") left for the town of az-Zubayr in southern Iraq. The Al Migrin ("House of Migrin") then became the ruling family among the Mrudah in Diriyah. After some initial struggles in the early 18th century, Muhammad ibn Saud, of the Al Migrin, became the undisputed amir ("prince", or ruler) of the town and its surrounding estates. In 1744, Muhammad ibn Saud took in a fugitive religious cleric named Muhammad ibn Abdel Wahhab, from nearby al-Uyayna. Ibn Saud agreed to provide political support to Ibn Abd al-Wahhab's project to reform Islamic practice. This marked the beginning of the First Saudi State. Later on, Saudi loyalists came to refer to Muhammad ibn Saud and his successors by the title of "Imam", signifying that they saw the emir of Dir'iyyah as the temporal leader of an Islamic state, rather than simply another clan leader or village ruler.
First Saudi Dynasty
The period beginning from 1744 is usually referred to by historians as the First Saudi State. This period was marked by conquest of neighboring areas and by religious zeal. At its height, the First Saudi State included most of the territory of modern-day Saudi Arabia, and raids by Al Saud's allies and followers reached into Yemen, Oman, Syria, and Iraq. Islamic Scholars, particularly Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and his descendants, are believed to have played a significant role in Saudi rule during this period. The Saudis and their allies referred to themselves during this period as the Muwahhidun or Ahl al-Tawhid ("the monotheists"),so later they are referred as the Wahhabis.
Leadership of the Al Saud during the time of their first state passed from father to son without incident. The first imam, Muhammad ibn Saud, was succeeded by his eldest son Abdul Aziz in 1765. Abdul Aziz was killed in 1803 by an assassin, believed by some to have been a Shi'ite seeking revenge over the sacking of the Shi'ite holy city of Karbala by Saudi loyalists in 1802. Abdul Aziz was in turn succeeded by his son, Saud, under whose rule the Saudi state reached its greatest extent. By the time Saud died in 1814, his son and successor Abdullah had to contend with an Ottoman-Egyptian invasion seeking to retake lost Ottoman territory and destroy the call to return to pure Islam. The mainly-Egyptian force succeeded in defeating Abdullah's forces, taking over the Saudi capital of Dir'iyyah in 1818. Abdullah was taken prisoner and was soon beheaded by the Ottomans in Constantinople, putting an end to the First Saudi State. The Egyptians sent many members of the Al Saud clan and other members of the local nobility as prisoners to Egypt and Constantinople, and proceeded to raze the Saudi capital of Dir'iyyah.
Second Saudi Dynasty
A few years after the fall of Dir'iyyah in 1818, the Saudis were able to re-establish their authority in Nejd, establishing what is now commonly known as the Second Saudi State, with its capital in Riyadh.
Compared to the First Saudi State, the second Saudi period was marked by less territorial expansion (it never reconquered the Hejaz or 'Asir, for example) and less religious zeal, although the Saudi leaders continued to go by the title of imam and still employed Salafi religious scholars. The second state was also marked by severe internal conflicts within the Saudi family, eventually leading to the dynasty's downfall. In all but one instance succession occurred by assassination or civil war, the exception being the passage of authority from Faisal ibn Turki to his son Abdallah ibn Faisal ibn Turki.
The first Saudi to attempt to regain power after the fall of Dir'iyyah in 1818 was Mishari ibn Saud, a brother of the last ruler in Dir'iyyah. Mishari was soon captured by the Egyptians and killed. In 1824, Turki ibn 'Abdallah, another Saudi who had managed to evade capture by the Egyptians, was able to expel Egyptian forces and their local allies from Riyadh and its environs. Turki, a grandson of the first Saudi imam Muhammad ibn Saud, is generally regarded as the founder of the second Saudi dynasty and is also the ancestor of the kings of modern-day Saudi Arabia. He made his capital in Riyadh and was able to enlist the services of many relatives who had escaped captivity in Egypt, including his son Faisal.
Turki was assassinated in 1834 by Mishari ibn Abd al-Rahman, a distant cousin. Mishari was soon besieged in Riyadh and later executed by Turki's son, Faisal, who went on to become the most prominent ruler of the Saudis' second reign. Faisal, however, faced a re-invasion of Nejd by the Egyptians four years later. The local population was unwilling to resist, and Faisal was defeated and taken to Egypt as a prisoner for the second time in 1838.
The Egyptians installed Khalid ibn Saud as ruler in Riyadh and supported him with Egyptian troops. Khalid was the last surviving brother of the last imam of the First Saudi State, and had spent many years in the Egyptian court. In 1840, however, external conflicts forced the Egyptians to withdraw all their presence in the Arabian Peninsula, leaving Khalid with little support. Seen by most locals as nothing more than an Egyptian governor, Khalid was toppled soon afterwards by Abdullah ibn Thuniyyan, of the collateral Al Thuniyyan branch. Faisal, however, had been released that year, and, aided by the Al Rashid rulers of Ha'il, was able to retake Riyadh and resume his rule. Faisal later appointed his son Abdallah as crown prince, and divided his dominions between his three sons Abdullah, Saud, and Muhammad.
Upon Faisal's death in 1865, Abdallah assumed rule in Riyadh but was soon challenged by his brother, Saud ibn Faisal. The two brothers fought a long civil war, in which they traded rule in Riyadh several times. Previously a vassal of the Saudis, Muhammad ibn Abdallah ibn Rashid of Ha'il took the opportunity to intervene in the conflict and increase his own power. Gradually, Ibn Rashid extended his authority over most of Nejd, including the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Ibn Rashid finally expelled the last Saudi leader, Abdul Rahman ibn Faisal, from Nejd after the Battle of Mulayda in 1891.
Third Saudi Dynasty
After his defeat at Mulayda, Abdul Rahman ibn Faisal went with his family into exile in the deserts of eastern Arabia among the Al Murra bedouins. Soon afterwards, however, Abdul Rahman found refuge in Kuwait as a guest of the Kuwaiti emir, Mubarak Al Sabah. In 1902, Abdul Rahman's son, Abdul Aziz, took on the task of restoring Saudi rule in Riyadh. Supported by a few dozen followers and accompanied by some of his brothers and relatives, Abdul Aziz was able to capture Riyadh's Masmak fort and kill the governor appointed there by Ibn Rashid. Abdul Aziz, reported to have been barely 20 at the time, was immediately proclaimed ruler in Riyadh. As the new leader of the House of Saud, Abdul Aziz became commonly known from that time simply as "Ibn Saud" ("son of Saud"). Ibn Saud spent the next three decades trying to re-establish his family's rule over as much of the Arabian Peninsula as possible, starting with his native Nejd. His chief rivals were the Al Rashid clan in Ha'il, the Sharifs of Mecca in the Hejaz, and the Ottoman Turks in al-Hasa. Ibn Saud also had to contend, however, with the descendants of his late uncle Saud ibn Faisal (later known as the "Saud al-Kabir" branch of the family), who posed as the rightful heirs to the throne. Though for a time acknowledging the sovereignty of the Ottoman Sultans and even taking the title of pasha, Ibn Saud allied himself to the British, in opposition to the Ottoman-backed Al Rashid. For the period between 1915 and 1927, Ibn Saud's dominions was a protectorate of the British Empire, pursuant to the 1915 Treaty of Darin.
By 1932, Ibn Saud had disposed of all his main rivals and consolidated his rule over much of the Arabian Peninsula. He declared himself king of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that year. Previously, he had gone through several titles, starting with "Sultan of Nejd" and ending with "King of Hejaz and Nejd and their dependencies." Ibn Saud's father, Abdul Rahman retained the honorary title of "imam." A few years later, in 1937, American surveyors discovered near Dammam what later proved to be Saudi Arabia's vast oil reserves.
Ibn Saud fathered dozens of sons and daughters by his many wives and concubines. He made sure to marry into many of the noble clans and tribes within his territory, including the chiefs of the Bani Khalid, Ajman, and Shammar tribes, as well as the Al al-Shaikh (descendents of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab). He also arranged for his sons and relatives to enter into similar marriages. He appointed his eldest surviving son, Saud as heir apparent, to be succeeded by the next eldest son, Faisal. The Saudi family became known as the "royal family," and each member, male and female, was accorded the title of amir or amira ("prince" or "princess"), respectively.
Ibn Saud died in 1953, after having cemented an alliance with the United States in 1945. He is still celebrated officially as the "Founder," and only his direct descendents may take on the title of "his or her Royal Highness." The date of his recapture of Riyadh in 1902 was chosen to mark Saudi Arabia's centennial in 1999 (according to the Islamic lunar calendar).
Upon Ibn Saud's death, his son Saud assumed the throne without incident, but his lavish spending led to a power struggle between him and the new crown prince, Faisal. In 1964, the royal family forced Saud to abdicate in favor of Faisal, aided by an edict from the country's grand mufti. During this period, some of Ibn Saud's younger sons, led by Talal ibn Abdul Aziz defected to Egypt, calling themselves the "Free Princes" and calling for liberalization and reform, but were later induced to return by Faisal. They were fully-pardoned but were also barred from any future positions in government.
Faisal was assassinated in 1975 by a nephew, Faisal ibn Musa'ad, who was then promptly executed. Another brother, Khalid assumed the throne. The next prince in line had actually been Muhammad, but Muhammad had relinquished his claim to the throne in favor of Khalid, who was his only full brother.
Khalid died of a heart attack in 1982, and was succeeded by Fahad, the eldest of the powerful "Sudairi Seven", so-called because they were all sons of Ibn Saud's wife, Hassa al-Sudairi. Fahad did away with the previous royal title of "his Majesty" and replaced it with the honorific "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques," in reference to the two Islamic holy sites in Mecca and Medina.
A stroke in 1993 left Fahad largely incapacitated, and the crown prince, Abdallah gradually took over most of the king's responsibilities until Fahad's death in August 2005. Abdallah was proclaimed king on the day of Fahad's death and promptly appointed his younger brother Sultan ibn Abdul Aziz, the minister of defense and Fahad's "second deputy prime minister," as the new heir apparent. On March 27, 2009 Abdallah appointed Prince Naif Interior Minister as his "second deputy prime minister"
Sons of Abdul Aziz (Ibn Saud, the founder of the modern Saudi state) have been, thus far, the only eligible candidates allowed to serve as King or Crown Prince. As a result of the aging of this pool (there are an estimated 22 surviving sons, the oldest being in his mid 80s and the youngest in his 60s), a decree by King Fahd expanded the candidates to include the male progeny of King Abdul Aziz's sons. This decree has expanded the pool to over 150 eligible candidates, though consensus and competency would limit this number.
Sons and grandsons of King Abdul Aziz are referred to in the style "His Royal Highness" (HRH), differing from the royals belonging to the Cadet line which are given the "His Highness" (HH) honorific.
The Cadet line includes the Saud al-Kabir, the Al Jiluwi, the Al Thunayan, the Al Mishari and the Al Farhan, all of which are branches of the Al Saud. Many of the Cadet Line royals hold senior government and military positions, or are in business. Intermarriage between branches is a common way of establishing alliances and reinforcing influence. Though members of the Cadet line are not in contention for the throne, there are some with seniority who command respect and often wield tremendous power.
The Head of the House of Saud is the King of Saudi Arabia who serves as Head of State and monarch of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The King holds almost absolute political power. The King appoints ministers to his cabinet who supervise their respective ministries in his name. The key ministries of Defense, the Interior, and Foreign Affairs are reserved for the Al Saud, as are most of the thirteen regional governorships. Most portfolios, however, such as Finance, Labor, Information, Planning, Petroleum Affairs and Industry, have traditionally been given to commoners, often with junior Al Saud members serving as their deputies. House of Saud family members also hold many of the Kingdom's critical military and governmental departmental posts. Ultimate power in the Kingdom has always rested upon the Al Saud, though support from the Ulema, the merchant community, and the population-at-large has been key to the maintenance of the royal family's political status quo.
Long term political and government appointments, such as those of King Abdullah, who has been Commander of the National Guard since 1963, Crown Prince Sultan, Minister of Defence & Aviation since 1962, Prince Mutaib Minister of Municipal & Rural Affairs from 1975 until his resignation in 2009, Prince Nayef who has been the Minister of Interior since 1975, and Prince Salman, who has been Governor of the Riyadh Region since 1962, have perpetuated the creation of fiefdoms where senior princes have, often, though not exclusively, co-mingled their personal wealth with that of their respective domains. They have often appointed their own sons to senior positions within their own fiefdom. Examples of these include Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah as Assistant Commander in the National Guard; Prince Khalid bin Sultan as Assistant Minister of Defence; Prince Mansour bin Mutaib as Assistant Minister for Municipal & Rural Affairs until he replaced his father in 2009; and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as Assistant Minister in the Interior Ministry. In cases, where portfolios have notably substantial budgets, appointments of younger, often full, brothers have been necessary, as deputies or vice ministers, ostensibly to share the wealth and the burdens of responsibility, of each fiefdom. Examples of these include Prince Abd-al Rahman who is Vice Minister of Defence & Aviation under Prince Sultan; Prince Badr, Deputy to King Abdullah in the National Guard; Prince Sattam, who is Deputy to Riyadh Governor, Prince Salman; and Prince Ahmed, who holds the Deputy Minister's portfolio in Prince Nayef's Interior Ministry.
Unlike Western royal families, the Saudi Monarchy has not had a clearly defined order of succession. Historically, upon becoming King, the monarch has designated an heir apparent to the throne who serves as Crown Prince of the Kingdom. Upon the King's death the Crown Prince becomes King, and during the King's incapacitation the Crown Prince, likewise, assumes power as regent. Though other members of the Al Saud hold political positions in the Saudi government, technically it is only the King and Crown Prince who legally constitute the political institutions.
Succession to the throne has traditionally been by consensus and, although age remains an influential factor within the family, senior princes have been bypassed, either by their own unwillingness or inability to rule, to build the consensus necessary primarily from within the royal family, but also from the clerical and merchant communities. The Bay'ah Council, whose membership is restricted to the surviving sons and senior grandsons of the late King Abdul-Aziz, ushers in a public face to this well-tried traditional process.
Though nominally head of the royal family, both Kings Khalid and Fahd respected and often deferred family matters (which often had intricate links to broader government procedures and policies) to their older brother, Muhammad bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud (who had stepped aside from succession) during Mohammed's lifetime. This tradition continues today; neither Princes Bandar bin Abdul Aziz nor Mishaal bin Abdul Aziz (the former being older than the king, and both older than Crown Prince Sultan) hold any official role in government but both are key players in the Kingdom's political hierarchy. Sons of former kings Faisal, Khalid, Fahd, and, to a lesser extent, Saud, including those not in government, also maintain significant political & family influence, and are expected to participate on the Bay'ah Council. In contradiction to widely held opinions, senior princesses also wield significant, albeit private, influence in royal family politics.
The sharing of family wealth has been a critical component in maintaining the semblance of a united front within the royal family. An essential part of family wealth is the Kingdom in its physical entirety, which the Al Saud view as a totally owned family asset. Whether through the co-mingling of personal and state funds from lucrative government positions, huge land allocations, direct allotments of crude oil to sell in the open market, segmental controls in the economy, special preferences for the award of major contracts, outright cash handouts, and astronomical monthly allowances—all billed to the national exchequer—all told, the financial impact may have exceeded 40% of the Kingdom's annual budget during the reign of King Fahd. Over decades of oil revenue-generated expansion, estimates of royal receipts have varied, ranging as low as an unlikely $50 billion and as high as well over $1 trillion. This method of wealth distribution has allowed many of the senior princes and princesses to accumulate largely unauditable wealth and, in turn, pay out, in cash or kind, to lesser royals and commoners, and thereby gaining political influence through their own largesse.
During periods of high oil prices as were the late 70s, early 80s, and again, immediately after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, national income has outpaced the developmental needs and social obligations of the Saudi government and the effects of royal skimming were diminished. According to well-publicized but unsubstantiated reports, King Abdullah has intentions to reduce the Al Saud share of the budget, an act which may sow discontent within the royal family, but would be popular with the Kingdom's citizenry.
Opposition to the House of Sa'ud
Due to its authoritarian and theocratic rule, the House of Saud has attracted much criticism during its rule of Saudi Arabia. Its opponents generally refer to the Saudi monarchy as totalitarians or dictators.
There have been numerous incidents of demonstrations and other forms of resistance against the House of Saud. These range from the Ikhwan uprising during the reign of Ibn Saud, to numerous coup attempts by the different branches of the Kingdom's military. On November 20, 1979 the Holy Sanctuary in Mecca was violently seized by a group of dissidents. The Seizure was carried out by 500 heavily armed and provisioned Saudi Dissidents, consisting mostly of members of the former Ikhwan tribe of Utayba but also of other peninsular Arabs and a few Egyptians enrolled in Islamic studies at the Islamic University of Medina.
The seizure was led by Juhayman al-Otaibi and Muhammad bin 'Abdallah al-Qahtani who cited the corruption and ostentatiousness of the ruling house of Saud. Utaybi and his group spoke against the socio–technological changes taking place in Saudi Arabia. Utaybi demanded that oil should not be sold to the United States.
Utaybi received little mass support outside of small circles of manual workers and students of tribal origin, of the lower classes and foreign labourers (from Egypt, Yemen and Pakistan.) The Saudi Royal family turned to the Ulema who duly issued a fatwa permitting the storming of the holy sanctuary. Saudi forces, aided by French and Pakistani special ops units, took two weeks to flush the rebels out of the holy sanctuary; the use of French commandos was surprising since, officially, non-Muslims may not enter the city of Mecca.
Saudi forces with the aid of Pakistani Special Services units ejected Utaybi’s Group. All surviving males (including Juhaiman ibn Muhammad ibn Saif al Utaybi) were beheaded publicly in four cities of Saudi Arabia.
Heads of the House of Sa'ud
First Saudi state
- Muhammad ibn Saud (d. 1765)
- Abdul-Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn Saud
- Saud ibn Abdul-Aziz ibn Muhammad Al Saud
- Abdullah ibn Saud
Second Saudi state
- Turki ibn Abdallah
- Faisal ibn Turki (first period)
- Khalid ibn Saud (appointed by the Egyptians)
- Abdullah ibn Thunayyan
- Faisal ibn Turki (second period)
- Saud ibn Faisal
- Abdullah ibn Faisal
- Abdulrahman ibn Faisal
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
- King Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdul-Rahman Al Saud
- King Saud ibn Abdul-Aziz
- King Faisal ibn Abdul-Aziz
- King Khalid ibn Abdul-Aziz
- King Fahd ibn Abdul-Aziz
- King Abdullah ibn Abdul-Aziz
Most notable current members
Sons of Abdul Aziz ibn Sa'ud
- Bandar bin Abdul Aziz (1923–)—Has never held a government post but considered close to King Abdullah. Religious, and possibly a recluse.
- Musa'id bin Abdul Aziz (1923–)—Older son, Khalid, was killed in a shootout with police in the early 1960s while demonstrating against the Kingdom's introduction of television. Younger son, Faisal, was King Faisal's assassin a decade later, for which he was beheaded. Mus'aid is religious, eccentric and a recluse. King Abdullah visited him in a Riyadh hospital in March 2009.
- Mishaal bin Abdul Aziz (1926–)—Former Minister of Defence & Governor of Makkah Province. Close confidant of King Abdullah, and Chairman of the Allegiance Council, Mishaal is one of the Kingdom's wealthiest royals with extensive interests in real estate and a wide range of business interests.
- Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz (1926–)
- Abd al-Rahman bin Abdul Aziz (1931–)—Appointed Vice-Minister of Defence on 1978 replacing younger brother, Turki, who was reportedly unfit for the position. Among the wealthiest royals with extensive business interests. With full brother, Crown Prince Sultan's impaired health and waning desire for greater power, Abd al-Rahman has reinforced his influence in the royal family, emerging as the preeminent member of the royal family's Sudairi faction.
- Mutaib bin Abdul Aziz (1931–)—Minister for Municipal & Rural Affairs from 1975 until 2009, and former Governor of Makkah. His profile and influence have greatly increased due to a lengthy tenure in government and a long-standing family alliance with King Abdullah and his only surviving full brother, Mishaal.
- Talal bin Abdul Aziz (1931–)—Has held the ministerial portfolios for Finance and Communications. Major businessman, special envoy to UNESCO and Chairman of AGFUND. May not be a contender for the throne for his leading role in the Free Princes movement of 1958 which sought government reform. Father of Al-Waleed bin Talal.
- Badr bin Abdul Aziz (1933–)—Long-time Deputy Commander of National Guard. Participated in the Free Princes movement in 1958 and rehabilitated by King Faisal a decade later.
- Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz (1933–)—Senior advisor of King Abdullah, former Minister of Finance and, briefly, Director General of the General Intelligence Directorate. Has substantial business holdings.
- Nayef bin Abdul Aziz (1933–)—Second Deputy Prime minister and long-time powerful Minister of Interior.
- Turki bin Abdul Aziz (1934–)—Businessman after he was forced to resign as Deputy Minister of Defence in 1978.
- Abdulilah bin Abdul Aziz (1935–)—Former Governor of Al Jawf Province. Appointed Special Advisor to King Abdullah in 2008.
- Salman bin Abdul Aziz (1936–)—Powerful Governor of Riyadh Region. Is considered a mediator between differing Royal Family factions. Diminishing health and the death of his two oldest sons within a 12 month period has, reportedly, dampened a desire for the throne.
- Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz (1940–)—Deputy Minister of Interior, with a reputation for 'getting the job done,' since 1975.
- Mamdouh bin Abdul Aziz (1940–)—Former Governor of Tabuk region who was removed from the post by King Fahd for insubordination. Later Director of Saudi Center of Strategic Studies.
- Sattam bin Abdul Aziz (1943–)—Deputy Governor of Riyadh region since 1968.
- Muqran bin Abdul Aziz (1945–)—Director General of the General Intelligence Directorate. Former Governor for Ha'il & Madinah regions.
- Hathloul bin Abdul Aziz (1945–)
Grandsons of Abdul Aziz ibn Sa'ud
- Muhammed bin Saud (1934–)—Governor of Al Bahah Province.
- Abdallah al-Khalid(1935–)—Chairman of the King Khalid Foundation.
- Mohammed al Faisal (1937–)—Former Deputy minister for Agriculture. Founder and Chairman of DMI Trust and the Faisal Islamic Bank Group; member of the Board of Trustees for the King Faisal Foundation. Oldest son of Queen Iffat.
- Khalid al Faisal (1941–)—poet, Governor of the Makkah Province and Managing Director of the King Faisal Foundation.
- Saud al Faisal (1941–)—Long-serving Foreign Minister and close confidant of King Abdullah. May have[vague] stepped aside as a succession candidate due to possibly debilitating health concerns but is highly respected both inside the kingdom and internationally. Member of the Board of Trustees for the King Faisal Foundation.
- Mutaib bin Abdullah (1953–)—Assistant Commander of the National Guard.
- Faisal bin Bandar (1943–)—Governor of Qasim Province.
- Turki al Faisal (1945–)—Adept former Ambassador to Washington D.C. until his surprise resignation on December 11, 2006. Has received intense western media criticism for allegedly mishandling the growth of Al Qaeda during his long tenure as the head of Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Directorate, where he oversaw Saudi Arabia's official and non official aid to the Mujahideen fighters during the Afghan Civil War. His short tenure as Ambassador to Britain received wide accolades for his professionalism. Member of the Board of Trustees for the King Faisal Foundation.
- Saud bin Abdul Mohsin (1947–)—Low-profile well-regarded Governor of Ha'il Province. Father was Prince Abdul Mohsin bin Abdul Aziz (1925–1985), much loved and respected Governor of Madinah.
- Khalid bin Sultan (1949–)—Assistant Minister of Defence. Led Saudi military forces during first Gulf War. Considered[by whom?] both competent and arrogant but accumulation of extensive assets and wealth through his positions in government may hinder political future.
- Mohammed bin Fahd (1950–)—Competent governor of the Eastern Province and son of late King Fahd. His vast business interests, much of it acquired from his position, may be a negative factor for future roles.
- Bandar bin Sultan (1950–)—Long-serving Ambassador to US, maintaining close relations with the Bush Family and others across the political spectrum. Reportedly used his position to accumulate great wealth which, in addition to Bandar's lack of in-country popularity, may deter family consensus supporting future roles. King Abdullah, whose support he enjoys, appointed Bandar Secretary-General of the newly created National Security Council in October 2005.
- Mohammed bin Nawwaf (1953–)—Saudi Ambassador to London. Gained kudos[by whom?] as competent former Ambassador to Italy. His growing prominence is closely connected to King Abdullah's trust and confidence in his father, Prince Nawwaf.
- Al-Waleed bin Talal (1955–)—Has gained stature as a world-class investor and is consistently ranked among Forbes magazine's wealthiest billionaires. Source of wealth reported to include private investments from other royals.
Saud bin Nayef (1956–)—Saudi Ambassador to Spain. Former Deputy Governor of the Eastern Province.
- Sultan bin Salman (1956–)—Former astronaut (1985) and Secretary General of the Supreme Commission for Tourism since 2000 with his current term extended to 2012.
- Mohammed bin Nayef (1959–)—Assistant Minister for Security Affairs in the Interior Ministry. He has taken over many of his father, Prince Nayef's, duties including the day-to-day operations against Al Qaeda.
- Faisal bin Salman (1960–)—Chairman of Saudi Research and Marketing Group, the Middle East's largest vertically integrated publishing group.
- Abdul Aziz bin Fahd (1973–)—Youngest, son of late King Fahd. Minister of State and Cabinet Member though his power and political potential are in decline since his father's death in August 2005 - his finances remain controversial and substantial.
The House of Saud by David Holden and Richard Johns. Contains 538 pages, plus bibliography, index, and family history, also sections of Black and White plates. Paperback edition by Pan Books, London, 4th printing 1983 ISBN 0-330-26834-1