Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia

Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud (b. 1875 – d. 1953), also known as Ibn Saud, was the founder of modern-day Saudi Arabia – the third Saudi state.

Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud

From 1902 and onward, he gradually unified the territory through a series of conquests. Before finally becoming King of Saudi Arabia in 1932, he was Emir/Sultan/King of Nejd and King of Hejaz.

Abdulaziz was the king of Saudi Arabia when huge amounts of petroleum was found there in the 1930s and when large-scale oil extraction commenced after World War II.

After his death in 1953, King Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia was succeeded by his son Saud bin Abdulaziz.

Short facts about Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud

Birth: 15 January 1875 in Riyadh, Nejd

Death: 9 November 1953 (aged 78) in Taif, Makkah

Father: Abdul Rahman bin Faisal, Emir of Nejd

Mother: Sara bint Ahmed Al Sudairi

Reign as King of Saudi Arabia: 23 September 1932 – 9 November 1953

Reign as Emir/Sultan/King of Nejd: 13 January 1902 – 23 September 1932

Reign as King of Hejaz: 8 January 1926 – 23 September 1932

Background

Abdulaziz was born in Riyadh in 1875, as the fourth child and third son of Abdul Rahman bin Faisal, one of the last rulers of the Emirate of Nejd, a tribal sheikdom with Riyadh as its centre. Abdulaziz´s mother was Sara bint Ahmed, of the Family Sudairi.

Abdulaziz had five full siblings: Faisal, Noura, Bazza, Haya, and Saad. He also had many half-siblings born to his father´s other wives

In 1891, when Abdulaziz was 15 years of age, the family´s fortune changed as they were exiled from Riyadh by a group of long-term rivals of the House of Saud. The Emirate of Nejd ended with the battle of Mulayda, where the Al Saud forces were defeated by troops led by Muhammad bin Abdullah al Rashid, the son of the founder of the Emirate of Jabal Shammar.

With his family, Abdulaziz initially hid among the Al Murrah, a Beduin tribe living in the desert. Later, the Ottoman State gave the family permission to settle in Kuwait, where Abdulaziz got to know Mubarak Al Shabah, a member of the Kuwaiti royal family who, in 1896, became the ruler of Kuwait.

While the family was living in exile, Abdulaziz paternal aunt Jawhara bint Faisal thought him about the long history of his family and encouraged him to eventually recapture what the House of Saud had now lost. She is considered a strong driving force behind his decision to recapture Nejd, and she remained one of his most trusted and influential advisers until her death around 1930.

Recapturing Riyadh – the start of the third Saudi state

In the early 1900s, Abdulaziz and some of this relatives started working on taking back control of Nejd from the ruling Rashidis. They raided tribes associated with the Rashidis, and also rallied support from other tribes. The Rashidis sought support from the ruler of Qatar and the Ottoman governor of Baghdad, but this was not enough to deter Abdulaziz who reached Riyadh on 15 January, 1902, accompanied by 40 men who climbed the city walls using tilted palm trees. The Saudi recapturing of Riyadh market the start of the third Saudi state.

Soon after Abdulaziz victory at Riyadh, dormant supporters of the House of Saud took up arms on his side, and Abdulaziz’s old acquaintance Mubarak al Sabah sent 70 soldiers led by

Abdulazi´s younger brother Saad. Over the next two years, Abdulaziz and his allies recaptured nearly half of Nejd from the Rashidis.

Capturing of Mecca

In 1925, Abdulaziz’s forces took control of the holy city Mecca, deposing Sharif Hussein and ending 700 years of Hashemite control of the city. In January 1926, leading figures in Mecca, Media and Jeddah proclaimed Abdulaziz King of Hejaz, and an oath of allegiance ceremony took place in the Great Mosque in Mecca. Before the month was over, Abdulaziz proclaimed that Nejd was a kingdom too, with himself as the king. In May, the British government signed the Treaty of Jeddah, recognizing the independence of the Hejaz and Nejd, and Abdulaziz as the ruler of both kingdoms.

Unification

By 1927, Abdulaziz controlled most of the central Arabian Peninsula, with some notable exceptions of land where local leaders had support from England. In this situation, a conflict arose between Abdulaziz and his important ally the Ikhwan, a religious and military brotherhood of tribesmen. Abdulaziz strategically banned raids that could anger the English, and this did not sit well with the Ikhwan. This conflict culminated in an Ikhwan rebellion against Abdulaziz, which was ultimately quenched by Abdulaziz forces in the 1929 Battle of Sabilla.

On 23 September 1932, Abdulaziz formally united the various parts of his realm into the unified Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with himself as king.

Petroleum discovered in Saudi Arabia

In 1938, SoCal (Standard Oil of California) discovered petroleum in Saudi Arabia, after having been granted a concession from King Abdulaziz a few years earlier.

Marriages and issue

In accordance with local customs, Abdulaziz had several wives and also concubines. Exactly how many remains unknown, but some sources state 22 consorts. Many of the marriages were strategical and served to strengthen alliances with other clans.

Abdulaziz had almost one hundred recognized children, including 45 sons of which 36 lived to adulthood. Of those 36, ten were capable enough to be considered serious candidates to the throne. Six of them eventually, one after the other, became rulers Saudi Arabia: King Saud, King Faisal, King Khalid, King Fahd, King Abdullah, and King Salman. Muhammad, Sultan, Nayef, and Muqrin did not become kings. Sultan and Nayef both died before their father, Muhammad declined to be appointed crown prince to the ruling king, and Muqrin was removed from his position in 2015 by his brother King Salman.

Examples of spouses to Abdulaziz

  • Wadha bint Muhammad Al Orair
  • Tarfa bint Abdullah Al Sheikh
  • Luluwah bint Salih Al Dakhil
  • Al Jawhara bint Musaed Al Jiluwi
  • Lajah bint Khalid bin Hithlain
  • Bazza I
  • Jawhara bint Saad Al Sudairi
  • Hussa bint Ahmed Al Sudairi
  • Shahida
  • Fahda bint Asi Al Shuraim
  • Bazza II
  • Haya bint Saad Al Sudairi
  • Bushra
  • Munaiyir
  • Mudhi
  • Nouf bint Al Shalaan
  • Saida Al Yamaniyah
  • Khadra
  • Baraka Al Yamaniyah
  • Futayma
  • Mudhi bint Abdullah Almandeel Al Khalidi

Salukis

Abdulaziz ran a Saluki kennel. Two of his salukis – a male and a female – were given to the British Field Marshal Sir Henry Maitland Wilson who brought them to the United States. The male saluki, named Ch Abdul Farouk, won a championship in the U.S.