HRH King Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia
HRH King Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz Al Saud was born in Riyadh in 1924 (1343 H). He was taught by a group of senior Ulema and prominent teachers. His knowledge was enhanced by his wide reading in politics, the economy and culture. In 1962 (1382 H) King Faisal Ibn Abdul Aziz appointed him Head of the National Guard, a military institution with a civilizing mission. Prince Abdullah heads this organization and has transformed it into a well equipped modern institution. In 1975, King Khaled issued an order appointing HRH as Second Deputy Premier in addition to his post as Head of the National Guard. When King Fahd assumed power following the death of King Khaled on 13/6/1982 (21/8/1402 H), he chose Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz as Crown Prince and First Deputy Premier. Prince Abdullah has played a remarkable role in achieving reconciliation and settling differences between Arab countries. In addition to his wide reading, Prince Abdullah is known for his love of horsemanship, a hobby reflected in his patronage of the Equestrian Club in Riyadh. His penchant for wide reading is evidenced by the establishment of the King Abdul Aziz Public Library in Riyadh, the capital, which contains thousands of books. In addition, he has established the King Abdul Aziz Foundation in Morocco. Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz also patronizes a cultural and social festival held annually in Janadriyah near Riyadh, under the title “National Festival for Heritage and Culture.”. All those concerned with cultural, social and heritage activities participate in the festival, which is attended by men of letters and media professionals from Arab and Islamic countries.
Appointed King of Saudi Arabia on 1st of August 2005 Following the death of late king Fahad.
King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, Former King of Saudi Arabia (died in 2005)
Prince Fahd was born in Riyadh in 1923, at a propitious time when his father, Abdul Aziz (Ibn Saud), was completing his unification of the land that was to be the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the land which sixty years later would be ruled by King Fahd.
By all accounts, the relationship between Prince Fahd and his father was a close one. Clearly, as Prince Fahd observed in his father the qualities that had enabled him to unite the fractious tribes of the Arabian Peninsula into a united country (the Kingdom was formally founded in 1932 when Prince Fahd was 9 years old), so King Abdul Aziz evidently discerned in his son the potential for leadership. The young Prince Fahd must therefore be given the best education the new Kingdom could at that time offer. King Abdul Aziz was determined to ensure that Prince Fahd should be fully versed in the Holy Scriptures of Islam, and in Arab history and culture.
Prince Fahd’s first formal schooling was at the “Princes’ School” in Riyadh, a school established by his father to ensure that his own sons and the children of other leading citizens were well equipped for the challenges that lay ahead. At the Princes’ School, Prince Fahd was tutored by men such as Ahmed Al Arabi and Sheikh Abdul-Ghani Khayat. After completing his time at the Princes’ School, Prince Fahd then attended the Religious Knowledge Institute in the Holy City of Makkah where he received further instruction from the most eminent Islamic scholars in the Kingdom.
In short, by the time Prince Fahd’s schooling was completed, he was steeped in the traditions of his society, the teachings of Islam and, through his regular contact with his father, the mechanisms of power and the qualities required to operate those mechanisms judiciously.
Prince Fahd’s first official visit outside the Kingdom was to attend the inauguration of the United Nations in New York in 1945, as part of the Saudi delegation led by the then Foreign Minister, later King, Faisal.
At the age of 30, in 1953, Prince Fahd was appointed as the Kingdom’s first Education Minister which is where the story told in this resource begins. It was to be another thirty years before Prince Fahd became King but a summary of some of his duties in the intervening period shows that, by the time his reign began, he had a rich and varied experience of government, politics and diplomacy both at national and international level.
As monarch, King Fahd’s first concern has had to be the security and stability of the country. This is the primary responsibility of any Head of Government but, in the case of Saudi Arabia, the responsibility is of paramount importance since the Kingdom is home to the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah and their guardianship is an integral part of the monarch’s responsibility.
Achieving security and stability has not always been entirely straightforward. The demands of modernization have inevitably created tensions from time to time in a conservative society. Striking the balance between those who wish to modernize as quickly as possible and those who are concerned that modernization could threaten the unique character of the Kingdom has demanded a high degree of skill. In exercising this skill, King Fahd has been helped by the tradition of consultation which permeates Saudi society. There have always been channels for every party to express their views. That has not necessarily helped King Fahd to find solutions but it has made him and his Government aware of any problems and sensitive to the balance of opinion on any issue.
In every act of diplomacy, King Fahd has sought to negotiate peace with justice. In the Iraq/Iran war, in Lebanon, in the Gulf war, in Bosnia and, above all, in Palestine, King Fahd has used his good offices to try to find just solutions to intractable problems. Even in the most vexed of issues, border disputes, the Kingdom, under King Fahd, has tried to resolve argument by international arbitration rather than force. The agreement with Yemen on the delineation of the Saudi/Yemen border is a model of the civilized way to resolve such matters.
At the same time, King Fahd has never been an advocate of peace at any price. When circumstances have necessitated it, King Fahd has always been prepared to place his authority behind a just cause and devote whatever resources are required to support it. Saudi troops led the way into Kuwait against the Iraqi invasion force and, whenever the Palestinians have needed help, the Kingdom has been unstinting in the humanitarian aid it has supplied.
It is difficult to find a corner of the world where Saudi Arabia, under King Fahd, has not made a contribution, either in humanitarian aid (which flows forth as soon as a need is recognized) or in promulgating Islam by building Mosques and Islamic centers and by distributing copies of the Holy Quran.
At home, King Fahd’s achievements speak for themselves. Those visitors to the Kingdom who have known the country throughout King Fahd’s reign will attest to the extraordinary development of the Kingdom’s infrastructure, education, health services, agriculture and industry over the last twenty-five years. But King Fahd’s legacy at home is not the buildings, the roads, the ports and airports; it is the people who, through education and social services, have been transformed from simple, generally illiterate, tribesmen or traders into literate individuals capable of holding their own and competing in the modern world.
Of course the foundations for much of this achievement were laid down by King Fahd’s predecessors but the drive and determination to make what seemed impossible happen over the last twenty-five years belonged to King Fahd.
There are still many challenges ahead for King Fahd’s successors. How to manage the Kingdom’s fluctuating oil revenues, how to find sufficient work for a young and fast-growing population, how to foster the elusive Arab unity without which the Arab nation will never reach its full potential, how to counter disinformation about Islam and about the Kingdom – these are just some of the challenges which are easy to identify – and, with the passage of time, no doubt new challenges will arise. But, in terms of what a man can achieve in his allotted life span, King Fahd proved to be the right man at the right time and, with the help of God, took the opportunity to achieve far more than most.
There have been monuments built to mark the passing on earth of great men. Across the Red Sea, the pyramids still stand as giant tombs to long-dead pharaohs. King Fahd has a finer monument – a nation and a country that he made far better than he found it.