Saudi Arabia / Politics /
¢abullahi bni 'abdul 'azīzi s-sa¢ūd
(1924-) King of Saudi Arabia since 2005, crown prince 1982-2005, acting ruler for King Fahd 1995-2005.
Abdullah has since the mid-1970's been one of the most important leaders of Saudi Arabia. He has no full brothers, which has both helped and hindered his career. The hindrance is that he has lacked a natural power base. But on the positive side, has this allowed him to move freely between the groups, and not to be associated with unpopular acts of other royal members.
His line has been one of traditionalist-nationalist, opposing the modernist USA-friendly line with other members of the royal family. Yet, it would be incorrect to call his policy anti-US, as he has been involved in acts that underline the friendship of the two countries. He has represented his country several times on state visits to the USA, and reports tell that US president George W. Bush consider him to be a personal friend.
Abdullah was for years one of the main supporters of Taliban of Afghanistan. Abdullah has been central in Saudi Arabia's work over years to promote an ultra-conservative version of Islam (Wahhabism), close in content to Islamism, which also has been promoting an anti-Western ideology.
Abdullah has also been involved in trying to conciliate religious and political dissidents, even those living abroad.
Abdullah has 4 wives, 7 sons and 15 daughters.
1924: Born in Riyadh, as son of Sultan Ibn Saud, the ruler of the country then called Najd and its Dependencies, which would later become Saudi Arabia. His mother, Asi al-Shuraim was of the defeated Rashid clan.
Abdullah was trained in Islamic education and Arab history. His father, the king made him live with nomadic Bedouin tribes for periods of time in order to make him physically and mentally strong.
1950's: Is appointed governor of Mecca.
1963: Is appointed Deputy Defence Minister and Commander of the National Guard.
1975: When Khalid becomes king, Abdullah is appointed Second Deputy Premier, but his most important position remained with his role as Commander of the National Guard.
1982: Fahd becomes king, and Abdullah is named Crown Prince and First Deputy Premier.
1995 November: As Fahd suffers from stroke, his powers are passed over to Abdullah.
1996 February: Fahd is officially declared well from his stroke, and takes back his powers from Abdullah. But in reality Abdullah would retain his role as the acting ruler of Saudi Arabia in most matters.
1998: Refuse to allow USA to use Saudi bases to strike Iraq.
2002: Abdullah fronts the Arab Peace Initiative, which aimed at creating a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as capital, and in return sign a peace treaty with Israel and recognize the state of Israel.
2005 August 1: King Fahd dies, and Abdullah succeeds him as new king.