The First King of Saudi Arabia And His Rise To Power
The first king of Saudi Arabia was Abdulaziz Ibn Saud. He was born in 1875 to the House of Saud, a powerful central Arabian family. Their previous ruling, the Emirate of Diriyah, was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1819. The family was at war with the Rashid family, who took control of the city of Riyadh in 1890. A little more than a decade later, Ibn Saud and his relatives began raiding allies of the Rashidis; their movement gained more than 200 participants at its peak. With the support of Saudi allies, Ibn Saud eventually took over some of the Rashidi-ruled territories but was again defeated in 1904 by Ottoman forces. This event began a two-year war against Ottoman troops, ending in October 1906 with Ibn Saud controlling Najd and Quassim. Not stopping with this victory, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud continued taking control of the eastern coast of Arabia and by 1912, he had formed a military-religious group.
He was recognized by the British government during World War I. They entered a treaty in 1917 with the British promising to protect and support the Saudi state and Ibn Saud promising to continue fighting the Rashid family, ally to the Ottoman Empire. With this added support, Ibn Saud defeated the Rashidis and took over their territory. By 1922, his forces gained control of Mecca, the holy city, ending a 7-century rule by the Hashemite. He was pronounced king of the Hejaz region in 1926 and 1927, England officially recognized Ibn Saud as the ruler of independent Hejaz and Najd. By September of 1932, he had complete control of the territories of Arabia and named himself king of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He remained king until his death on November 9, 1953.
Achievements Of The Kings of Saudi Arabia
After the death of Ibn Saud, his second son took the throne. Since then, the monarchy has been held by one of Ibn Saud’s sons. King Saud, the second king, increased the number of ministries, including a department of education, health, commerce and industry, and agriculture. He was the first Middle Eastern ruler to use embargoes on oil exports as a political weapon when he blocked Britain and France during the Suez crisis in Egypt.
Then-prince Faisal established a cabinet without King Saud’s approval and took control of the government in 1962. The brothers fought until the National Guard forced King Saud out of the country. Faisal became the third king of Saudi Arabia. He proved to be a popular king due to his focus on modernization and balancing the national budget. In 1962, he abolished slavery (one of the last countries in the world to do so). He maintained an alliance with the US and held consistently anti-communist views. In March of 1975, he was assassinated by his half-brother’s son.
King Khalid, the fourth king, held the throne for 7 years. He invested in the development of agriculture and industry. Under his rule, Saudi Arabia became one of the richest countries in the world.
In 1982, Fahd became king until 2005. From 1995 until 2005, he could not perform his monarchical duties due to health problems. These responsibilities were assumed by Abdullah, the 6th king. During the Persian Gulf War, King Fahd allowed US troops on Saudi land to fight the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
King Abdullah is considered the founder of modern Saudi Arabia. He granted women the right to vote and to participate in the Olympics games. He invested in educational scholarship programs and public health initiatives to prevent breast cancer. He served as King from 2005 to 2015.
Under the House of Saud, the King holds absolute power over the government. The king appoints ministers to administer the cabinet. Succession to the throne is determined by the king in power who names an heir. The heir receives the title “Crown Prince” and takes the throne upon the king’s death.
Current King Of Saudi Arabia
Currently, Saudi Arabia is ruled by King Salman, 80 years old. After being crowned, he gave away bonuses, scholarships, and grants; additionally, he invested in water and electricity infrastructure. Estimates suggest this act totaled approximately $32 billion. He is also responsible for streamlining the government and intervening in the Yemeni Civil War. Under his reign, Saudi Arabia is supporting the rebels in Syria. His current nominated Crown Prince is his nephew, Muhammad bin Nayef.