Fahd of Saudi Arabia

Fahd of Saudi Arabia

King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, (1921 - August 1, 2005) was the King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Head of the House of Saud as well as Prime Minister. One of thirty-six sons of Saudi founder Ibn Saud, and the fourth of his five sons who have ruled the Kingdom (Saud, Faisal, Khalid, Fahd, and Abdullah), Fahd ascended to the throne on the death of his half-brother, King Khalid, on June 13, 1982.

Fahd was appointed Crown Prince when Khalid succeeded their half-brother King Faisal, who was assassinated in 1975. Fahd was viewed as the "de facto" prime minister during King Khalid's reign in part due to the latter's ill health.

Fahd suffered a debilitating stroke November 29, 1995, after which he was unable to continue performing his full official duties. His half-brother, Abdullah, the country's Crown Prince, served as "de facto" regent of the kingdom and succeeded Fahd as monarch upon his death on August 1, 2005.

King Fahd is credited for having introduced the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia in 1992.

Early life

Fahd was a son of King Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud, known as "Ibn Saud", the founder and first monarch of modern Saudi Arabia. At the time of his birth, Fahd's father was completing the consolidation of the House of Saud's power on the Arabian Peninsula, having evicted the Hashemite clan from control of Makkah and Madinah.

Fahd was the eldest of the "Sudairi Seven", a moniker referring to seven sons of Ibn Saud by Hussah bint Ahmad Al Sudairi, who was among his many wives. The seven brothers, the largest contingent of full brothers among Ibn Saud's sons, aided each other's political careers and were acknowledged as being the most powerful bloc within the Al Saud clan. The exact dates of birth of Fahd and his brothers are not known because meticulous records were not kept in the 1920s in Saudi Arabia, but the generally quoted year of his birth is 1921. Among his full brothers, Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz (born 1924) has been Minister of Defense since 1962 and Second Deputy Prime Minister since 1982; he is currently also the Crown Prince. Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, who succeeded Fahd as Interior Minister in 1975, Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the Governor of Riyadh, and Deputy Interior Minister Prince Ahmed are also considered potential future kings.

At the age of 11 in 1932, Fahd watched as his father officially founded the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by signing the Treaty of Jedda.

Fahd's education took place at the Princes' School in Riyadh, a school established by Ibn Saud specifically for the education of members of the House of Saud. While at the Princes' School, Fahd studied under tutors including Sheikh Abdul-Ghani Khayat.

In 1945 Fahd travelled on his first state visit to New York City to attend the opening session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. On this trip Fahd served under his brother, King Faisal, who was at the time Saudi Arabia's foreign minister.

Early political positions

In 1953, at the age of 32, Fahd was appointed Education Minister by his father. Also in 1953, Fahd led his first official state visit, attending the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on behalf of the House of Saud.

Later Fahd would lead the Saudi delegation to the League of Arab States in 1959, signifying his increasing prominence in the House of Saud — and that he was being groomed for a more significant role.

In 1962, Fahd was given the important post of Interior Minister and five years later he was appointed Second Deputy Prime Minister. After the death of King Faisal in 1975, Fahd was named first deputy Prime Minister and Crown Prince.

Family and progeny

Fahd was married at least four times, but many believe it was a far greater number. He had six sons and an unknown number of daughters. His sons were:
* Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud (1946-1999) Died of a heart attack. Director-general of Youth Welfare (1971-99), Director-general at Ministry of Planning and Minister of State (1977-1999).
* Khalid bin Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud (born 1947) Current head of Youth Welfare.
* Muhammad bin Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud (born 1950), governor of the Eastern province.
* Saud bin Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud (born 1950), former deputy president of the General Intelligence Directorate.
* Sultan bin Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud (born 1951), Army Officer. Elevated to minister rank in November 1997.
* Abdul-Aziz bin Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, nicknamed , (born 1971), Fahd's favorite son and minister of state without portfolio. He is the son of Princess Jawhara al-Ibrahim, Fahd's fourth and, reportedly, favorite wife [http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200305/baer] .


On March 25, 1975, King Faisal was assassinated by his nephew and King Khalid assumed power. Fahd, as next in the line of succession, became Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister. Especially in the later years of King Khalid's reign, Fahd was viewed as the "de facto" prime minister. When King Khalid died on June 13, 1982, Fahd succeeded to the throne. He adopted the title "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques" in 1986, replacing "His Majesty", to signify an Islamic rather than secular authority.

Foreign policy

King Fahd's foreign policies included support for the War on Terrorism which he described would crush the terrorists "with an iron fist". He was a supporter of the United Nations. He supports foreign aid and has given 5.5% of Saudi Arabia's national income through various funds especially the Saudi Fund for Development and the OPEC Fund for International Development. He has also given aid to the needy such as the Bosnian Muslims in the recent Balkan Wars. King Fahd had also been a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause and an opponent of the State of Israel. [http://www.kingfahdbinabdulaziz.com/main/l500.htm] Fahd had also been in favor of good diplomatic relations with the United States, noting the excellent relations shared by the US and Saudi Arabia in a statement "After Allah, we can count on the United States." [http://www.cia.gov]

Fundamentalism, Iran, and Islamic education

The Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 radically transformed the political landscape in the Middle East, as the hereditary monarchy of the Shah of Iran was deposed in favor of a religious autocracy based on Shari'a. In the same year, dissidents
seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca, and accused the Saudi royal family of being insufficiently Islamic and so unfit to rule the Kingdom. Fearing that the Saudi nation and the royal family could be at risk of overthrow, and seeking to counter the ascendant revolutionary Iranian-led Shi'ite fundamentalist movement, Fahd spent considerable sums after ascending the throne in 1982 to support Saddam Hussein's Iraq in its war with Iran. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/255097.stm Obituary: King Fahd] , "BBC News", August 1, 2005. Accessed June 10, 2008.] He also changed his royal title to "custodian of the two holy mosques", and took steps to support the conservative Saudi religious establishment, including spending millions of dollars on religious education, further distancing himself from his inconvenient past. [Wood, Paul. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4734505.stm Life and legacy of King Fahd] , "BBC News", August 1, 2005. Accessed June 10, 2008.]

Recreational Activities

At the same time as King Fahd presided over a more strict Islamic policy at home he was known to enjoy luxurious living abroad, even in ways that would not be allowed in his own kingdom. He visited the ports of the French Riviera, in his convert|482|ft|m|sing=on yacht, the $100 million Abdul Aziz. The ship featured two swimming pools, a ballroom, a gym, a theater, a portable garden, a hospital with an intensive-care unit and two operating rooms, and four American Stinger missiles. [Simons, Geoff, "Saudi Arabia", St. Martins, (1998), p.28] The king also had a personal $150 million Boeing 747 jet, equipped with his own fountain. In his visits to London he reportedly lost millions of dollars in the casinos and even was known to circumvent the curfew imposed by British gaming you laws by hiring his own blackjack and roulette dealers to continue gambling through the night in his hotel suite. [Marie Colvin, `The Squandering Sheikhs, "Sunday Times", August 29, 1993]

Gulf War, 1991

After Iraqi forces under Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, placing the Middle East's largest Army at the time, on the border of Saudi Arabia. King Fahd agreed to host coalition troops, led by the United States, in his Kingdom, and later to allow American troops to be based there. This decision brought him considerable criticism from Islamic hard-liners who objected to the presence of non-Islamic troops on Saudi land, and is a casus belli against the Saudi royal family prominently cited by Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.

Reform and industrialization

Rule after the 1995 stroke

King Fahd is suffered a debilitating stroke in 1995 and became noticeably frail, and decided to delegate the running of the Kingdom to Crown Prince Abdullah. After his stroke King Fahd was mostly inactive, though he still attended meetings and received selected visitors. In November 2003 he pledged to "strike with an iron fist" at terrorists after deadly bombings. However, it is Crown Prince Abdullah who took official trips; when King Fahd travelled it was for vacations, and he was sometimes absent from Saudi Arabia for months at a time. When his oldest son and International Olympic Committee member Prince Faisal bin Fahd died in 1999, the King was in Spain and did not return for the funeral. [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/01/international/01cnd-fahd.html?ex=1123732800&en=691cd3456fd4afea&ei=5070&8bl Saudi Arabia's King Fahd Dies; Abdullah Named New Leader] , "New York Times", August 1, 2005. Accessed June 11, 2008.]


King Fahd was admitted to the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the capital, Riyadh on May 27, 2005 for unspecified medical tests. An official told the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the monarch's death had not officially been announced. The king had died at 7:30 EDT on August 1, 2005. A member of the cabinet publicly announced his death on Saudi TV the same morning. He announced the death to be the result of a disease which officials later stated the king had been suffering from pneumonia and a high fever.


He was buried in the last "thobe" (traditional Arab robe) he wore. Fahd’s body was carried to Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque, and funeral prayers were held at around 3:30 local time (12:30 GMT). The prayers for the late monarch were led by the Kingdom’s grand mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh.

The "prayer for the dead", during which mourners remain standing, was recited after afternoon prayers. The ceremony was replicated in other mosques across the vast kingdom, where the "prayers for the absentee" were held.

The body was carried by King Fahd's son, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd, to the mosque and to the Al-Oud cemetery some two kilometers away, a public cemetery where Fahd’s four predecessors and other members of the Al Saud ruling family are buried.

Arab and Muslim dignitaries who attended the funeral were not present at the burial. Only ruling family members and Saudi citizens were on hand as the body was lowered into a hole that was be covered by earth.

Muslim leaders offered condolences at the mosque, while other foreign dignitaries and leaders who came after the funeral paid their respects at the royal court.

In line with the family and official state religion, Islam, Saudi Arabia did not declare a national mourning period. Also, all government offices and public buildings were open as usual and the state flag was not lowered (since the flag of Saudi Arabia bears the "shahadah", the Islamic declaration of faith, lowering the flag to half mast would be considered blasphemousOr|date=July 2008).

After his death, many countries declared mourning periods. India declared a national day of mourning. Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Syria, Yemen, the Arab League in Cairo, and the Palestinian Authority all declared three-day mourning periods. Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates declared a seven-day mourning period and ordered all flags flown at half-staff. In Jordan, a national three-day mourning period has been declared and a 40-day mourning period has been decreed at the Royal Court.

The United States announced that Vice President Dick Cheney would attend the funeral. French President Jacques Chirac announced that he would also attend, as did Spain's King Juan Carlos, the United Kingdom's Prince Charles, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, Jordan's King Abdullah II, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Singapore Senior Minister, SM Goh Chok Tong.

Lebanon announced that all public buildings would close on the day of the funeral, as did Jordan. The United States Embassy and its consulates in Saudi Arabia closed through Wednesday August 8. All government offices were closed until Tuesday, August 9 in the United Arab Emirates, and, in Oman, all public buildings were closed through Thursday.

See also

* King Fahd International Airport
* King Fahd Causeway
* King Fahd University for Petroleum and Minerals
* Malek Fahd Islamic School

Soccer tournaments

* FIFA Confederations Cup (former King Fahd Cup)

* King Fahd Cup 1992
* King Fahd Cup 1995


External links

* [http://www.kingfahdbinabdulaziz.com King Fahd Tribute Page]
* [http://www.arabnews.com/?supname=KingFahd&supplement=1&part=1&last=37 Twenty Years of King Fahd] from ArabNews.
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4736935.stm Saudi King Fahd is laid to rest] (BBC News, 2 August 2005)
** [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/255097.stm] (BBC News, 1 August 2005)
** [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,60-1717054,00.html] ("The Times", 2 August 2005)
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4737637.stm International editorial reaction to Fahd's death]
** [http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl%3Dstory&u%3D/ap/20050801/ap_on_re_mi_ea/obit_fahd Late Saudi King Fahd Modernized Kingdom] Dead link|date=January 2008|url=http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl%3Dstory&u%3D/ap/20050801/ap_on_re_mi_ea/obit_fahd
* [http://www.saudi-american-forum.org/Newsletters2004/SAF_Item_Of_Interest_2004_01_16.htm] (Saudi-American Forum, 16 January 2004)

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