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Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

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Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques , a historical term, was a pious title taken by the Ayyubids, the Mamluk Sultans of Egypt, and the Ottoman Sultans; it has been revived by modern Saudi kings.-Saudi monarchy:...

, ( ) (born August 1, 1924) is the King of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. He succeeded to the throne on 1 August 2005 upon the death of his half-brother, King Fahd
Fahd of Saudi Arabia
Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, was King of Saudi Arabia from 1982 to 2005...

. When Crown Prince
Crown Prince
A crown prince or crown princess is the heir or heiress apparent to the throne in a royal or imperial monarchy. The wife of a crown prince is also titled crown princess....

, he governed Saudi Arabia as regent
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 from 1998 to 2005. He was Commander of the Saudi Arabian National Guard
Saudi Arabian National Guard
The Saudi Arabian National Guard is a separate military force of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is not part of the Saudi Arabian Defence Forces, due to its specific role as a counterbalance to the regular military. It serves both as defence force against external threats and as a security force...

 from 1962 to November 2010, and is one of the world's wealthiest royals.

Second Deputy Prime Minister



King Khalid
Khalid of Saudi Arabia
Khalid bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud was King of Saudi Arabia from 1975 to 1982. He ruled during Saudi Arabia's oil boom years. In 1979, he had to deal with the Grand Mosque Seizure...

 appointed Abdullah as Second Deputy Prime Minister, which is second in line of succession to the Saudi throne. However, Abdullah's appointment caused friction in the House of Saud
House of Saud
The House of Saud , also called the Al Saud, is the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia and one of the wealthiest and most powerful dynasties in the world. The family holds thousands of members...

. Fahd
Fahd of Saudi Arabia
Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, was King of Saudi Arabia from 1982 to 2005...

 and the Sudairi Seven supported the appointment of their own full brother, Sultan. Abdullah was pressured to concede control of SANG in return for his appointment as Second Deputy Prime Minister. In August 1977, this caused a debate between hundreds of princes in Riyadh
Riyadh
Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province, and belongs to the historical regions of Najd and Al-Yamama. It is situated in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, and is home to 5,254,560 people, and the urban center of a...

. Abdullah did not concede authority of SANG because he feared that would weaken his authority.

Crown Prince


In May 1982, when Fahd became King, Abdullah became Crown Prince
Crown Prince
A crown prince or crown princess is the heir or heiress apparent to the throne in a royal or imperial monarchy. The wife of a crown prince is also titled crown princess....

 the same day. He maintained his position as head of the armed forces.

When Fahd was incapacitated by a major stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

 in 1995, Abdullah acted as de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

regent
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 ruler of Saudi Arabia.

In August 2001, he ordered Ambassador Bandar bin Sultan
Bandar bin Sultan
Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud is a prince of the Saudi royal family and was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005. He was appointed Secretary-General of the National Security Council by King Abdullah on 16 October 2005...

 to return to Washington. This reportedly occurred after Abdullah witnessed a brutality between an Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i soldier and a Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 woman. He later also condemned Israel for attacking families of accused suspects.

On the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the then-prince wrote a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

, which ended with:


"God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 Almighty
Almighty
Almighty is an Abrahamic term for God. See OmnipotentAlmighty may also refer to:*The Almighty , a Scottish rock band formed in 1988*The Almighty , a character in the anime/manga series Oh My Goddess!...

, in His wisdom, tests the faithful by allowing such calamities to happen. But He, in His mercy, also provides us with the will and determination, generated by faith, to enable us to transform such tragedies into great achievements, and crises that seem debilitating are transformed into opportunities for the advancement of humanity. I only hope that, with your cooperation and leadership, a new world will emerge out of the rubble of the World Trade Center
World Trade Center
The original World Trade Center was a complex with seven buildings featuring landmark twin towers in Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States. The complex opened on April 4, 1973, and was destroyed in 2001 during the September 11 attacks. The site is currently being rebuilt with five new...

: a world that is blessed by the virtues of freedom, peace, prosperity and harmony."

King of Saudi Arabia


Abdullah succeeded to the throne upon the death of his half-brother King Fahd
Fahd of Saudi Arabia
Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, was King of Saudi Arabia from 1982 to 2005...

. He was formally enthroned on August 3, 2005. At age 87, he is one of the world's oldest reigning monarchs. He has topped the 500 Most Influential Muslims list for two consecutive years in 2009 and 2010.

Domestic affairs


He has implemented many reform measures. He has re-shuffled the Ministry of Education's leadership in February 2009 by bringing in the King's pro-reform son-in-law as the new minister. He also at the same time appointed Nora bint Abdullah al-Fayez, a US-educated former teacher, as deputy education minister in charge of a new department for female students.

He has done a top-to-bottom restructuring of the country's courts to introduce, among other things, review of judicial decisions and more professional training for Shari'a judges. He has been responsible for the creation of a new investment promotion agency to overhaul the once-convoluted process of starting a business in Saudi Arabia. He has created a regulatory body for capital markets. He has promoted the construction of the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (the country's new flagship and controversially-coed institution for advanced scientific research). He has done a substantial budgetary investment in educating the workforce for future jobs. The Saudi government is also encouraging the development of non-hydrocarbon sectors in which the Kingdom has a comparative advantage, including mining, solar energy, and religious tourism. The Kingdom's 2010 budget reflects these priorities—about 25 percent is devoted to education alone—and amounts to a significant economic stimulus package.

In 2005, he implemented a government scholarship program to send young Saudi men and women to Western universities for undergraduate and postgraduate studies. The program offers funds for tuition and living expenses up to four years. It is estimated that more than 70,000 students have studied abroad in more than 25 countries. United States, England, and Australia are the top three destinations mostly aimed for by the young Saudi students. There are now more than 22,000 Saudi students studying in the US, exceeding pre-9/11 levels. Public health engagement has included breast cancer awareness and CDC cooperation to set up an advanced epidemic screening network that protected this year's 3 million Hajj pilgrims.


The response of his administration to homegrown terrorism has been a series of crackdowns including raids by security forces, arrests, torture and public beheadings. He has vowed to fight terrorist ideologies within the country. He has made the protection of Saudi Arabia's critical infrastructure a top security priority.

His strategy against terrorism has been two-pronged: he has attacked the roots of the extremism that fed Al-Qaida through education and judicial reforms to weaken the influence of the most reactionary elements of Saudi Arabia's religious establishment. He is also promoting economic diversification.
He decreed in August 2010 that only officially approved religious scholars associated with the Senior Council of Ulema would be allowed to issue fatwa
Fatwa
A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

s. Similar decrees since 2005 were previously seldom enforced. Individual fatwas relating to personal matters were exempt from the royal decree. The decree also instructed the Grand Mufti to identify eligible scholars.

In light of the 2010–2011 Middle East and North Africa protests
2010–2011 Middle East and North Africa protests
The Arab Spring , otherwise known as the Arab Awakening, is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world that began on Saturday, 18 December 2010...

, Abdullah has laid down a $37-billion programme of new spending including new jobless benefits, education and housing subsidies, debt write-offs, and a new sports channel. There was also a pledged to spend a total of $400bn by the end of 2014 to improve education, health care and the kingdom’s infrastructure. Saudi police arrested 100 Shiite protesters who complained of government discrimination. In September, 2011, the king announced women's right to vote in the 2015 municipal council elections, a first significant reform step in the country since the protests. He also stated that women would become eligible to take part in the unelected shura
Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia
The Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia also known as Majlis as-Shura or Shura Council is the formal advisory body of Saudi Arabia, which is an absolute monarchy. It cannot pass or enforce laws, a power reserved for the King. The Consultative Assembly has limited powers in government, including...

.

Interfaith dialogue


In November 2007, he visited Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

 in the Apostolic Palace
Apostolic Palace
The Apostolic Palace is the official residence of the Pope, which is located in Vatican City. It is also known as the Sacred Palace, the Papal Palace and the Palace of the Vatican...

. He is the first Saudi monarch to visit the Pope.

In March 2008, he called for a “brotherly and sincere dialogue between believers from all religions.”

In June 2008, he held a conference at Mecca to urge Muslim leaders to speak with one voice with Jewish and Christian leaders. He discussed and took approval of the Saudi Islamic scholars and the world's renowned Islamic scholars to hold the interfaith
Interfaith
The term interfaith dialogue refers to cooperative, constructive and positive interaction between people of different religious traditions and/or spiritual or humanistic beliefs, at both the individual and institutional levels...

 dialogue. In the same month, Saudi Arabia and Spain agreed to hold the interfaith dialogue in Spain. The historic conference finally took place in Madrid in July 2008 where religious leaders of different faiths participated.

He had never earlier made any overtures for dialogue with eastern religious leaders such as Hindus and Buddhists
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

. The Mecca conference discussed an important paper on the dialogue with the followers of monotheistic religions highlighting the monotheistic religions of southeast Asia including Sikhism in the third axis of the fourth meeting titled "With Whom We Talk" presented by Sheikh Badrul Hasan Al Qasimi. The session was chaired by Dr. Ezz Eddin Ibrahim, Adviser to the President of the United Arab Emirates for Culture. The session also discussed a paper presented on coordination among Islamic institutions on Dialogue by Dr. Abdullah bin Omar Nassif, Secretary General of the World Islamic Council for Preaching and Relief and a paper on dialogue with divine messages, presented by Professor Mohammad Sammak – Secretary General of the Islamic Spiritual Summit in Lebanon.

On November 2008, he and his government were responsible for the 'Peace of Culture' which took place at the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

. It brought together Muslim and non-Muslim nations to eradicate the preconception of Islam and Terrorism. It brought together leaders including former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

, Israeli President Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

, former U.S. President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 and King Abdullah II of Jordan
Abdullah II of Jordan
Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein is the reigning King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. He ascended the throne on 7 February 1999 after the death of his father King Hussein. King Abdullah, whose mother is Princess Muna al-Hussein, is a member of the Hashemite family...

.

Arab nationalism


He has called for the establishment of an Arab common market. His foreign minister stated the Arab Customs Union would be ready by 2015 and by 2017 the common market would also be in place. There have been intensive efforts to link Arab countries with a railway system and an electricity power grid. Work on the power grid project has started in some Arab countries.

United States



In October 1976, as Prince Abdullah was being trained for greater responsibility in Riyadh, he was sent to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 to meet with President Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

. He again traveled to the United States as Crown Prince in October 1987, meeting Vice President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

. In September 1998, Crown Prince Abdullah made a state visit
State visit
A state visit is a formal visit by a foreign head of state to another nation, at the invitation of that nation's head of state. State visits are the highest form of diplomatic contact between two nations, and are marked by ceremonial pomp and diplomatic protocol. In parliamentary democracies, heads...

 to the United States to meet in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 with President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

. In September 2000, he attended millennium
Millennium
A millennium is a period of time equal to one thousand years —from the Latin phrase , thousand, and , year—often but not necessarily related numerically to a particular dating system....

 celebrations at the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. In April 2002, Crown Prince Abdullah made a state visit to the United States with President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 and he returned again in April 2005 with Bush. In April 2009, at a summit for world leaders U.S. President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 met him. In June 2009, Abdullah hosted President Obama in Saudi Arabia. In turn, Obama hosted Abdullah at the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 in the same month.

He has shown great support for Obama's presidency. "Thank God for bringing Obama to the presidency," he said, adding that Obama's election created "great hope" in the Muslim world. He stated, "We (the U.S. and Saudi Arabia) spilled blood together" in Kuwait and Iraq and Saudi Arabia valued this tremendously and friendship can be a difficult issue that requires work but the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have done it for 70 years over three generations. "Our disagreements don't cut to the bone," he stated. He was the leading gift-giver to the U.S. president and his office in his first two years in office, his gifts totaling more than $300,000. A ruby and diamond jewelry set, given by the king and accepted by Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is the wife of the 44th and incumbent President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States...

 on behalf of the United States, was worth $132,000. However, according to federal law, gifts of such nature and value are accepted "on behalf of the United States" and are considered property of the U.S. government.

He said that "it was a mistake" to limit access of Saudi citizens to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

Iraq


The Bush Administration ignored advice from him and Saudi foreign minister Saud Al Faisal against invading Iraq. However, other sources say that many Arab governments were only nominally opposed to the Iraq invasion because of popular hostility. Before becoming king, Abdullah was thought to be completely against the U.S. invasion of Iraq; this, however, was not the case. Riyadh provided essential support to the United States during the war and proved that "necessity does lead to some accommodations from time to time." The King expressed a complete lack of trust in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
Nouri al-Maliki
Nouri Kamil Mohammed Hasan al-Maliki , also known as Jawad al-Maliki or Abu Esraa, is the Prime Minister of Iraq and the secretary-general of the Islamic Dawa Party. Al-Maliki and his government succeeded the Iraqi Transitional Government. He is currently in his second term as Prime Minister...

 and held out little hope for improved Saudi-Iraqi relations as long as al-Maliki remains in office. King Abdullah told an Iraqi official about Nouri al-Maliki, “You and Iraq are in my heart, but that man is not.”

Iran


In April 2008, he told US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker
Ryan Crocker
Ryan Clark Crocker is a Career Ambassador within the United States Foreign Service and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He currently is the United States Ambassador to Afghanistan. He was the United States Ambassador to Iraq until 2009; he previously served as the U.S...

 and US General David Petraeus
David Petraeus
David Howell Petraeus is the current Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, sworn in on September 6, 2011. Prior to his assuming the directorship of the CIA, Petraeus was a four-star general serving over 37 years in the United States Army. His last assignments in the Army were as commander...

 to "cut off the head of the snake". Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir
Adel al-Jubeir
Adel A. Al-Jubeir is the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States, and a former foreign policy advisor to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia. He is a well-known representative of the Saudi kingdom in the West, particularly the United States. Al-Jubeir presented his credentials to...

 recalled the King's frequent exhortations to the US to attack Iran and to put an end to its nuclear weapons program." Abdullah asserted that Iran is trying to set up Hezbollah-like organizations in African countries, observing that the Iranians don't think they are doing anything wrong and don't recognize their mistakes. He said the Iranians "launch missiles with the hope of putting fear in people and the world." The King described his conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki
Manouchehr Mottaki
Manouchehr Mottaki is an Iranian politician and diplomat. He was the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Whilst technically appointed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he is considered to be closer to more pragmatic conservative factions and during the 2005 presidential election, he was the campaign...

 as "a heated exchange, frankly discussing Iran's interference in Arab affairs." When challenged by the King on Iranian meddling in Hamas affairs, Mottaki apparently protested that "these are Muslims." "No, Arabs" countered the King, "You as Persians have no business meddling in Arab matters." Abdullah said he would favor Rafsanjani
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is an influential Iranian politician and writer, who was the fourth President of Iran. He was a member of the Assembly of Experts until his resignation in 2011...

 in an Iranian election.

He told General Jones that Iranian internal turmoil presented an opportunity to weaken the regime—which he encouraged—but he also urged that this be done covertly and stressed that public statements in support of the reformers were counterproductive. The King assessed that sanctions could help weaken the government, but only if they are strong and sustained.

In 2006, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei had sent his adviser Ali Akbar Velayati with a letter asking for Abdullah's agreement to establish a formal back channel for communication between the two leaders. Abdullah said he had agreed, and the channel was established with Velayati and Saud Al-Faisal as the points of contact. In the years since, the King noted, the channel had never been used.

Guantánamo Bay


In December 2010, leaked diplomatic cables
United States diplomatic cables leak
The United States diplomatic cables leak, widely known as Cablegate, began in February 2010 when WikiLeaks—a non-profit organization that publishes submissions from anonymous whistleblowers—began releasing classified cables that had been sent to the U.S. State Department by 274 of its consulates,...

 published by WikiLeaks
Wikileaks
WikiLeaks is an international self-described not-for-profit organisation that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources, news leaks, and whistleblowers. Its website, launched in 2006 under The Sunshine Press organisation, claimed a database of more...

 revealed that Abdullah wanted all detainees released from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to be tracked through an implanted microchip, in a similar way to race horses. The King made the private suggestion during a meeting in Riyadh in March 2009 with John O. Brennan
John O. Brennan
John O. Brennan is chief counterterrorism advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama; officially his title is Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and Assistant to the President...

, the White House counter-terrorism adviser. Brennan replied that "horses don't have good lawyers" and that such a proposal would "face legal hurdles" in the United States. In the same cables it was revealed that Abdullah also privately urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear weapons program.

China


Since Abdullah's visit to Beijing in January 2006, the Saudi-Chinese relationship has focused predominantly on energy and trade. The king's visit was the first by a Saudi head of state to China since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1990.
Bilateral trade with China has more than tripled, and China will soon be Saudi Arabia's largest importer. Saudi Arabia has also committed significant investments in China, including the $8 billion Fujian refinery. Based on the cablegate wikileaks report: The King has told the Chinese that it is willing to effectively trade a guaranteed oil supply in return for Chinese pressure on Iran not to develop nuclear weapons.

Foreign relations with other nations


In a November 2009, the King was received by Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy is the 23rd and current President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra. He assumed the office on 16 May 2007 after defeating the Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal 10 days earlier....

 who committed various diplomatic faux pas. The diplomatic relationship Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac
Jacques René Chirac is a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988 , and as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.After completing his studies of the DEA's degree at the...

 had with Saudi Arabia was not evident with Sarkozy. In January 2011, the Kingdom granted asylum to the ousted Tunisian leader, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, under conditions of no further political involvement.

Saudi Arabia, by the endorsement of the Gulf Cooperation Council
Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf
The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf , also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council , is a political and economic union of the Arab states bordering the Persian Gulf and constituting the Arabian Peninsula, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates...

, sent 1200 troops to Bahrain
Bahrain
' , officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The population in 2010 stood at 1,214,705, including 235,108 non-nationals. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002.Bahrain is...

 to protect industrial facilities which resulted in a strained relations with the United States. It should be mentioned that the forces sent were not Saudi forces but rather a coalition from a multitude of Arab Gulf countries. The military personnel sent were part of the Peninsula Shield forces who are stationed in Saudi Arabia but not affiliated with one country alone.

According to leaked cables
United States diplomatic cables leak
The United States diplomatic cables leak, widely known as Cablegate, began in February 2010 when WikiLeaks—a non-profit organization that publishes submissions from anonymous whistleblowers—began releasing classified cables that had been sent to the U.S. State Department by 274 of its consulates,...

, he was more receptive than Crown Prince Sultan, to Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

i President Saleh
Ali Abdullah Saleh
Field Marshal Ali Abdullah Saleh is the first President of the Republic of Yemen. Saleh previously served as President of the Yemen Arab Republic from 1978 until 1990, at which time he assumed the office of chairman of the Presidential Council of a post-unification Yemen. He is the...

.

He has supported renewed diplomatic relations with the Syrian government and Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad is the President of Syria and Regional Secretary of the Ba'ath Party. His father Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria for 29 years until his death in 2000. Al-Assad was elected in 2000, re-elected in 2007, unopposed each time.- Early Life :...

. Assad attended the opening of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology is a public research university located in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.KAUST was founded in 2009 and focuses exclusively on graduate education and research, using English as the official language of instruction...

 in October 2009. In August, 2011, he recalled the Saudi Ambassador from Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 due to the political unrest in Syria.

Criticism


On February 16, 2003, Parade Magazine's David Wallechinsky
David Wallechinsky
David Wallechinsky has worked as a commentator for NBC Olympic coverage and is the author of many Olympic reference books and other reference books. He is a Jewish-American. He is the author of The Complete Book of the Summer Olympics and The Complete Book of the Winter Olympics series...

 rated King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah as the second worst dictator in the world. Most of this criticism stems from the fact that most of his citizens live under a strict Wahhabist interpretation of Sharia law
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

, which mandates the amputation of hands as a punishment for theft and floggings for crimes like drunkenness. Execution by public beheading is common for murder, rape, drug trafficking, and witchcraft, and Abdullah's polices towards the rights of women have also been criticized. In a slight rebuff to accusations of human rights violations, Saudi inmates of Najran sent the King well-wishes from jail and wished him a speedy recovery.

Abdullah has also been criticized for his policies on religious freedom, which is reportedly non-existent, and the Saudi government allegedly has arrested Shiite pilgrims on the Hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

 . On January 24, 2007, Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 sent an open letter to King Abdullah asking him to cease religious persecution of the Ahmadi
Ahmadiyya
Ahmadiyya is an Islamic religious revivalist movement founded in India near the end of the 19th century, originating with the life and teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad , who claimed to have fulfilled the prophecies about the world reformer of the end times, who was to herald the Eschaton as...

 faith in Saudi Arabia. Two letters were sent in November 2006 and February 2007 asking him to remove the travel ban on critics of the Saudi government. Human Rights Watch has not yet indicated whether they have received any response to these letters.

On October 30, 2007, during a state visit to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Abdullah was greeted by protesters accusing him of being a "murderer" and a "torturer". Concerns were raised in the UK about the treatment of women and homosexuals by the Saudi kingdom. Concerns were also raised over alleged bribes involving arms deals between Saudi Arabia and the UK.

Succession to the throne



King Abdullah's half brother Crown Prince Sultan was his heir-apparent until his death on October 22, 2011. The current Crown Prince is Sultan's full brother, Prince Nayef

In 2006, Abdullah set up the Allegiance Council
Allegiance Council
The Allegiance Council is the body responsible for determining future succession to the throne of Saudi Arabia. It was formed in 2006 by King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud. At the time of its formation, the Council's intended function was to appoint a Crown Prince once a new King succeeds to the...

, a body that is composed of the sons and grandsons of Saudi Arabia's founder, King Abdul-Aziz, to vote by a secret ballot to choose future kings and crown princes. The council's mandate was not to have started until after the reigns of both Abdullah and Sultan were over. It was not clear, what was to happen, when Sultan died before the end of Abdullah's reign, leaving a question as to whether the council would vote for a new crown prince, or whether Nayef would automatically fill that position. Prince Nayef was appointed Crown Prince on October 27, 2011 after consultation with the Allegiance Council by Abdullah.

In November 2010, Prince Nayef chaired a cabinet meeting because of the deterioration of the King's health. During the same month, King Abdullah transferred his duties as Commander of the Saudi National Guard to his son Prince Mutaib
Mutaib bin Abdullah
*Seba*Nouf*Abdullah*Zeina*Saad*KhalidPrince Mutaib bin Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud is the Commander of the Saudi National Guard since 2010. He is also a state minister. He is a son of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia....

. Abdullah is credited with building up the once largely ceremonial unit into a modern 260,000-strong force that is a counterweight to the army. The Guard, which was Abdullah's original power base, protects the royal family. This was suggested as an apparent sign that the elderly monarch is beginning to lessen some of his duties.

Various positions


King Abdullah was Commander of the Saudi National Guard from 1963 to 2010. He is Chairman of the Supreme Economic Council
Supreme Economic Council
The Supreme Economic Council was established at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 to advise the conference on economic measures to be taken pending the negotiation of peace...

, President of the High Council for Petroleum and Minerals, President of the King Abdulaziz Center For National Dialogue
King Abdulaziz Center For National Dialogue
The King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue is an independent national institution which seeks to strengthen channels of communication and dialogue between Saudi citizens and the different elements and institutions of Saudi society...

, Chairman of the Council of Civil Service, and head of the Military Service Council.

Family


Abdullah is the sixth son (out of 37 sons) of King Abdul-Aziz
Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia
King Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia was the first monarch of the Third Saudi State known as Saudi Arabia. He was commonly referred to as Ibn Saud....

, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, to ascend to the throne. He is, after his half-brothers Bandar and Musaid, the third eldest of the living sons of Abdul-Aziz.

His mother is a فهدة العاصي الشريم Al-Rashidi, longtime rivals of the Al Saud. He has had more than thirty wives, and has fathered at least thirty-five children.
His youngest son was born in 2003. His son Prince Mutaib
Mutaib bin Abdullah
*Seba*Nouf*Abdullah*Zeina*Saad*KhalidPrince Mutaib bin Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud is the Commander of the Saudi National Guard since 2010. He is also a state minister. He is a son of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia....

 is the Commander of the National Guard. His son Prince Mishaal is the Governor of the Najran Province. His daughter Princess Adila
Adila bint Abdulla Al-Saud
Princess Adila Bint Abdullah Ibn Adul Aziz Aal Saud is a member of the Saudi Royal Family. Adila is the daughter of King Abdullah and is married to Prince Faisal bin Abdullah bin Muhammad, the new Education Minister appointed in 2009....

 is married to Prince Faisal bin Abdullah bin Muhammad, the new Education Minister appointed in 2009. Adila is one of the few Saudi princesses with a semi-public role and a known advocate of women's right to drive. His son Prince Abdul-Aziz is his Syrian adviser. His son Faisal
Faisal bin Abdullah
Prince Faisal bin Abdullah is the son of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and his wife Aida. He is the head of the Saudi Arabian Red Crescent Society.-References:...

 is the head of the Saudi Arabian Red Crescent Society. His son Khaled
Khaled bin Abdullah
Prince Khalid bin Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud is the oldest of the 22 children of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Despite being the eldest son of the Saudi king, the Prince is not in the Saudi line of succession.-Education:...

 is Deputy Commander of the Saudi Arabian National Guard West.

Health


The king has curtailed his activities since June 2010 with no clear explanation. Diplomats said there has been uncertainty about the extent of his health problems since Abdullah canceled a visit to France. In a television appearance in which he was seen to use a cane, King Abdullah said he was in good health but had something "bothering" him.

In November 2010, his back problems came to light in the media. He had an "accumulation of blood" around the spinal cord. He suffered from a herniated disc and was told to rest by doctors. Later, an expected—but never officially announced—visit by then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
Hosni Mubarak
Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak is a former Egyptian politician and military commander. He served as the fourth President of Egypt from 1981 to 2011....

 became a phone call between the two leaders instead. He was admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital after a blood clot complicated a slipped disc and underwent successful back surgery. The surgeons probably removed the herniated disk and performed a lumbar fusion. He had another successful surgery in which surgeons "stabilized a number of vertebras". He left the hospital on December 21 and convalesced at the New York Plaza Hotel. On January 22, he left the United States and went to Morocco. He then returned to the Kingdom on 23 February 2011.

Saudi authorities have been unusually open in going public with the king's condition, apparently in an effort to prevent any speculation and reassure allies of the key Mideast nation and oil power. Personal issues within the royal family are often kept under strict wraps. To maintain the Kingdom's stability, Crown Prince Sultan returned from Morocco at the time.

Philanthropy

  • King Abdullah paid for the separation surgery of a pair of Polish
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

     conjoined twins
    Conjoined twins
    Conjoined twins are identical twins whose bodies are joined in utero. A rare phenomenon, the occurrence is estimated to range from 1 in 50,000 births to 1 in 100,000 births, with a somewhat higher incidence in Southwest Asia and Africa. Approximately half are stillborn, and a smaller fraction of...

    , which took place at the King Abd al-Aziz Medical City in Riyadh
    Riyadh
    Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province, and belongs to the historical regions of Najd and Al-Yamama. It is situated in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, and is home to 5,254,560 people, and the urban center of a...

     on January 3, 2005. He was given "honorary citizenship" by the Polish town of Janikowo
    Janikowo
    Janikowo is a town located in Inowrocław County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland. It has a population of 9,072 ....

    , where the twins were born. On March 18, 2005, he was awarded the Order of the Smile (which he received during his visit to Poland in 2007).

  • He has established two libraries, the King Abdulaziz Library in Riyadh and another in Casablanca, Morocco.

  • He donated over $300,000 to furnish a New Orleans high school rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina
    Hurricane Katrina
    Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

    .

  • He donated half a billion dollars to the United Nations
    United Nations
    The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

     World Food Programme
    World Food Programme
    The World Food Programme is the food aid branch of the United Nations, and the world's largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger worldwide. WFP provides food, on average, to 90 million people per year, 58 million of whom are children...

     in 2008

  • He has donated $50 million in cash and $10 million worth of relief materials for the 2008 Sichuan earthquake
    2008 Sichuan earthquake
    The 2008 Sichuan earthquake or the Great Sichuan Earthquake was a deadly earthquake that measured at 8.0 Msand 7.9 Mw occurred at 14:28:01 CST...

     in China
    China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

    .

  • He donated $10 billion to the endowment fund of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
    King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
    King Abdullah University of Science and Technology is a public research university located in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.KAUST was founded in 2009 and focuses exclusively on graduate education and research, using English as the official language of instruction...

     in May 2008.

  • He established the King Abdullah University (Rawalakot) in Pakistan's Azad Jammu and Kashmir region after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake
    2005 Kashmir earthquake
    The 2005 Kashmir earthquake was a major earthquake centered in Pakistan-administered Kashmir known as Azad Kashmir, near the city of Muzaffarabad, affecting Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. It occurred at 08:52:37 Pakistan Standard Time on 8 October 2005...

    .

  • On February 5, 2011, he waived $156 million USD of housing loans for nearly 3,300 Saudis who had died.

Wealth


His wealth and personal income is estimated at , ranking him as one of the richest royals in the world.

External links