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Saud ibn Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd al-Rahman Al Saud
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King Saud in 1957
House of Saud
Saud ibn Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd al-Rahman ibn Faisal ibn Turki Al Saud

Saud bin Abdul Aziz, King of Saudi Arabia (January 12 , 1902 - February 23, 1969) (Arabic: سعود بن عبد العزيز آل سعود‎) was King of Saudi Arabia from 1953 to November 2, 1964. He was the eldest surviving son of Ibn Saud, his mother being Princess Wadhha bint Muhammad bin Burghush Al Uray'ir of the Bani Khalid tribe. He became heir to the throne after the death of his older brother, Turki (1900–1919), who was the eldest son of Abd al-Aziz Al Saud. Turki was Crown Prince of Nejd from his father's conquest of Riyadh on January 15, 1902, to his death during the influenza pandemic of 1919. The law of succession was changed immediately after Turki's death, so that the kingship of Nejd, and later all Saudi Arabia would, starting with Saud, pass from brother to brother and not father to son.

Major events
1956 Saudi Arabia stopped exporting oil to Britain and France due to the Suez Crisis.
1957 State visit to the United States at invitation of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
1957 Saudi Arabia became a member at the International Monetary Fund.
1961 A royal decree was made to establish the Institute of Public Administration.
1961 Saud became sick and traveled to America for treatment.
1962 Saud established Saudi Television.
1963 Saudi Arabia withdrew its troops from Kuwait, after the end of the Iraqi-Kuwaiti conflict.


Early life

Saud was born in 1902 in Kuwait, in a house located in the district of (Sakkat Anaza) where the family of the Amir Abdul Rahman bin Faysal was staying after their exile from Riyadh. After his father Abdulaziz conquered Riyadh in 1902, Saud followed him with his mother and brothers. When he was five years old, his father took him to Sheikh Abdul Rahman Mufaireej, where he was taught several subjects including shari'a and the Qur'an. At that time he had smallpox, but Abdulaziz made Saud attend the meetings that he held in order to learn and develop political skills. He also learnt the art of archery and equitation. Moreover, Saud was close with his father so much that when he died Saud said "I lost my father…and my friend". [2].

The warrior

The first political mission that Saud held was as head of a delegation sent by his father to Qatar, when he was thirteen years old. He led the first war against Hail in 1921, and became the leader of the Saudi troops fighting in Yemen. In addition, Saud participated in eight wars before he came to the throne: Grab War, Yabet War, Truba, Alkuras, Hail, Alhijaz, Almahmal and the Brethren[3]. Before becoming king, Saud, along with his half-brother Faisal, was given great responsibilities in the establishment and running of the lands of Ibn Saud. Shortly after the formal establishment of Saudi Arabia, he was made a crown prince on May 11, 1933, bypassing his father's own brothers. In 13 of October 1953 Saud was appointed as the Prime Minister[4]and at the same year when Ibn Saud died in 1953, Saud became king.

U.S. President Harry S. Truman conferring the Order of the Legion of Merit Degree of Commander.


During his reign he was responsible for the establishment of numerous governmental ministries, and also for the establishment of King Saud University (renamed to Riyadh University after Saud's abdication, and subsequently restored to King Saud University on its 25th anniversary in 1982) in Riyadh. He had 53 sons and 56 daughters[5] and was keen to give his own sons power, and placed them in high governmental positions. This annoyed his half-brothers, who thought that Saud's sons were too inexperienced, and began to fear that Saud would select his own son to succeed him. He was also known for his lavish spending squandering state funds for his own family, and on palaces, all at a time when Saudi Arabia was still struggling economically. Despite cordial relations with Egypt at the beginning of his reign in order to oppose the Hashemite kingdoms of Iraq and Jordan, Saud would later grow weary of Egyptian influence in the Arab world, which led to numerous diplomatic blunders, such as a supposed plot to assassinate Gamal Abdel Nasser. Saud also began supporting royalist forces in the Yemeni Civil War, that saw Egypt supporting republican forces. Saud began to promote his own sons, as his father had done at the expense of his brothers. Between 1953 and 1964, the appointment of eight ministers were partly to contain the fermenting demands for political participation among members of the royal lineage. But in 1957 Saud placed his son Fahd in the Ministry of Defense, his son Musaid in the Royal Guard, his son Khalid in the National Guard and his son Saad in the Special Guard. The government profile did not take into account the claims of Sauds brothers, and most importantly, Faisal, the most senior[1]

Struggle with Faisal

A fierce struggle between Ibn Saud's most senior sons, Saud and Faisal, erupted immediately after the death of King Abdulaziz. The increase in oil revenues did not solve the financial problem associated with the debts Saud had inherited from his father, estimated to have been $200 million in 1953. In fact, this debt more than doubled by 1958, when it reached $450 million. The Saudi riyal lost half of its official value against the dollar. Both ARAMCO and international banks declined Saudi's demand for credit. Saud suspended the few government projects he had initiated, but continued his spending on luxurious palaces[2]

Saud and Faisal fought an internal battle over the definition of political responsibilities and the division of government functions. Saud is often associated among other things with plundering of oil revenues, luxurious palaces, conspiracy inside and outside Saudi Arabia, and vice. Faisal is associated with sobriety, piety, puritanism, financial wisdom, and modernization. Moreover, the conflict between the two brothers is often described as originating from the desire of Faisal to curb his brother's spending and solve Saudi Arabia's financial crisis.

The battle between the two brothers was fought over the role to be assigned to the Council of Ministers. Saud abolished the office of prime minister by royal decree, thus enforcing his position as King and de facto prime minister. Saud thought of himself as both King and prime minister whereas Faisal envisaged more powers in his own hand as Crown Prince and deputy prime minister[3]

Removal from throne

King Saud's family members worried about Saud's profligacy and his inability to meet Nasser's nationalist challenge. Corruption and backwardness were weakening the regime and Radio Cairo's anti-Saudi propaganda could find a receptive audience.[4]

With the Free Princes in the background, Saud and Faisal continued their power struggle until 1962, when Faisal formed a cabinet in the absence of the King, who had gone abroad for medical treatment. Faisal brought into government his half-brothers Fahad and Sultan, both of whom had been his close allies. Faisal's new government excluded the sons of Saud. He promised a ten-point reform that included the drafting of a basic law, the abolishing of slavery and the establishment of a judicial council. Upon his return Saud rejected Faisal's new arrangement and threaten to mobilize the Royal Guard against his brother. Faisal ordered the mobilization of the National Guard against the King. With the arbitration of the ulema, and pressure from senior members of the royal family, Saud gave in and agreed to abdicate on 28 March 1964.[5]

Saud was forced into exile and he moved to Geneva, Switzerland, and then on to other European cities. In 1966 Saud was invited to live in Egypt by president Nasser. After his abdication, he was generally not mentioned in Saudi Arabia, with numerous institutions bearing his name being renamed, and his reign being given passing if any reference in official history books. Likewise, his sons remained largely marginalized from positions of power though two were named governors to minor provinces during the reign of King Fahd.


Two days before his death, he had felt ill and asked his doctor Filnger from Austria to examine him. In the morning of that day, Saud took a short walk on a beach with his daughter Nozhah, near Hotel Kavouri where he used to reside. His physician arrived after he had died in Athens, Greece, on February 23, 1969, after suffering a heart attack in his sleep. His body was taken to Makkah then to Riyadh where he was buried in Alaoud cemetery.[6]

See also

Faisal of Saudi Arabia


  1. ^ Alrasheed M. (2002) A History of Saudi Arabia Cambridge University Press; P.108-9
  2. ^ Alrasheed M. (2002) A History of Saudi Arabia (Cambridge University Press; P.107)
  3. ^ Alrasheed M. (2002) A History of Saudi Arabia (Cambridge University Press; P108)
  4. ^ Quandt W. (1981)Saudi Arabia in the 1980s, The Brooking Institutions, Washington (p.90)
  5. ^ Alrasheed M. (2002) A History of Saudi Arabia (Cambridge University Press; P.114
  6. ^ [1]

External links

Saud of Saudi Arabia
Born: 1902 Died: 1969
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ibn Saud
King of Saudi Arabia
Succeeded by

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