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Ibn Saud

Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman ibn Faisal Al Saud (b. Riyadh, 1880; d. Taif, 1953), also known by several abbreviated forms of this name, or simply as Ibn Saud was first monarch of Saudi Arabia. He was born into the House of Saud (also Sa'ud), which had historically mantained dominion over an area of what was then known as Arabia called Nejd.

Table of contents
1 Losing and Reclaiming Power
2 Oil and the Rule of Ibn Saud
3 Foreign Wars
4 Family and Succession

Losing and Reclaiming Power

In 1890, at the age of ten, Saud followed his family into exile in Kuwait following the conquering of the families lands by the Rashidi. He spent the remainder of his childhood in Kuwait as a "penniless exile" [1].

In 1901, at the age of 21, Ibn Saud succeeded his father to become the leader of the Saud dynasty with the title Sultan of Nejd. It was at this time that he set out to reconquer his family lands from Ibn Rashid in what is now called Saudi Arabia. In 1902, together with a party of relatives and servants, he recaptured Riyadh with only twenty men by assassinating the Rashidi governor of the city. Ibn Saud was considered a "magnetic" leader, and many former supporters of the House of Saud once again rallied to its call following the capture of Riyadh.

For two years following his dramatic capture of Riyadh, Ibn Saud recaptured almost half of Nejd from the Rashidi. In 1904, however, Ibh Rashid appealed to the Ottoman Empire for assistance in defeating the House of Saud. The Ottomans sent troops to Arabia, setting Ibn Saud on the defensive. The armies of the House of Saud suffered a major defeat on June 15, 1904, but his forces soon reconstituted and resumed the offensive as the Turkish troops left the country due to supply problems.

Ibn Saud finally consolidated control over the Nejd in 1912 with the help of an organized and well-trained army. During World War I the British government attempted to cultivate favor with Ibn Saud, but generally favored his rival Husayn ibn Ali, leader of Hejaz, whom the Sauds were almost constantly at war with. Despite this, the British entered into a treaty in December of 1915 making the lands of the House of Saud a British protectorate. In exchange, Ibn Saud pledged to again make war against Ibn Rashid, who was an ally of the Ottomans.

Ibn Saud did not, however, immediately make war against Ibn Rashid, despite a steady supply of weapons and cash (5,000 British pounds per month) supplied by the British. He argued with the British that the payment he received was insufficient to adequately wage war against an enemy as powerful as Ibn Rashid. In 1920, however, the House of Saud finally marched again against the Rashidi, extinguishing their dominion in 1922. The defeat of the Rashidis doubled the territory of the House of Saud, and British subsidies continued until 1924.

In 1925 the Sauds defeated Husayn in battle.

In 1927, following the defeat of Husayn, the British government recognized the power of the Saud family, led by Ibn Saud, over much of what is today Saudi Arabia. At this time he changed his own title from Sultan of Nejd to King of Hejaz and Nejd.

From 1927 to 1932 Ibn Saud continued to consolidate power throughout the Arabian Peninsula. In 1932, having conquered most of the Peninsula, Saud renamed the area from the lands of Nejd and Hejaz to Saudi Arabia. He then proclaimed himself King of Saudi Arabia, with the support of the British government.

Oil and the Rule of Ibn Saud

Oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938, and Ibn Saud responded by granting substantial authority over Saudi oil fields to American oil companies. In the early days of the oil boom most oil revenues received by the government of Saudi Arabia were immediately directed to the coffers of the royal family. As the income from oil grew, however, Ibn Saud began to spend some revenues on improving the lives of his subjects.

Saud forced many nomadic tribes to settle down and abandon "petty wars" and vendettas. He also began to fight crime in Saudi Arabia, particularly crime against pilgrims visiting the holy cities of Makkah and Medina.

Foreign Wars

Ibn Saud positioned Saudi Arabia as neutral in World War II, but was generally considered to favor the Allies.

In 1948 Saud participated in the Arab-Israeli war, although the contribution of Saudi Arabia was generally considered token.

Family and Succession

Ibn Saud is the father of all the Kings of Saudi Arabia that have suceeded him. From King Saud (1902 - 1969), who succeeded his father as regent of Saudi Arabia in 1953, three months after being appointed Prime Minister by his father. In 1964 King Saud (1902 - 1969) was deposed by the Saudi Council of Ministers and succeeded by King Faisal, another of Ibn Saud's sons. Faisal was followed by two other sons, Khalid and Fahd. According to Saudi law, the King of Saudi Arabia must be a son of Ibn Saud. It is not known what will happen when all his sons die.

Preceded by:
Kings of Saudi Arabia Succeeded by:
King Saud
Preceded by:
Abdul Rahman bin Faisal Al Saud
Heads of the House of Saud Succeeded by:
King Saud