Thursday, January 22, 2015

BREAKING: King Abdullah ibn Abdilazīz has died

Abdullah ibn Abdilazīz was born 1 August 1924 as the tenth son of King Abdulaziz & Fahda bint Asi Al Shuraim {Source}

In 1963, Abdullah was made commander of Saudi National Guard (SANG). TBeginning by 1985, SANG also sponsors the Janadiriyah festival that institutionalized the traditional folk dances, camel races, and tribal heritage{Source}.

King Khalid appointed Prince Abdullah as second deputy prime minister in March 1975, a reflection of being the second in line of succession to the Saudi throne{Source}. Prince 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{Source}. Prince Abdullah did not concede authority of SANG because he feared that would weaken his authority{Source}.

On 13 June 1982 when King Khalid died, Fahd bin Abdulaziz became King, Prince Abdullah became Crown Prince the same dayHe also maintained his position as head of the National Guard. During his years as crown prince, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz was described as a supporter of accommodation{Source}. When King Fahd was incapacitated by a major stroke in 1995, Crown Prince Abdullah acted as de facto regent of Saudi Arabia, In May 2001, Crown Prince Abdullah did not accept an invitation to visit Washington due to U.S. support for Israel in the Al Aqsa Intifada. He also appeared more eager than King Fahd to cut government spending and open Saudi Arabia up economically. He pushed for Saudi membership in the World Trade Organization, surprising some{Source}. In August of the same year, he orderd the Saudi Ambassador to the US to return to Washington.  In 2002, he developed an Arab peace initiative, commonly referred to as the "Abdullah plan", to achieve mutually agreed-on resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict {Source}. By late 2003, after the Saudi Arabian branch of al-Qaeda carried out a series of bombings that threatened to destabilize the country, Crown Prince Abdullah together with other decision-making elites began to deal with political concerns. One of such moves was his project to promote more tolerance for religious diversity and rein in the forces of politico-religious extremism in the kingdom, leading to the establishment of National Dialogue. In the summer of 2003, Abdullah threw his considerable weight behind the creation of a national dialogue that brought leading religious figures together, including a highly publicized meeting attended by the kingdom's preeminent Shi'i scholar Hasan al-Saffar, as well as a group of Sunni clerics who had previously expressed their loathing for the Shi'i minority.

Abdullah succeeded to the throne upon the death of his half-brother King Fahd. He was formally enthroned on 3 August 2005. During his reign he had several positive initiatives. In 2005, King Abdullah implemented a government scholarship program to send young Saudi men and women to study abroad in different universities around the world for undergraduate and postgraduate studies. . He has re-shuffled the Ministry of Education's leadership in February 2009 by bringing in his pro-reform son-in-law, Faisal bin Abdullah, as the new minister. He also appointed Nora Al Fayez, a U.S.-educated former teacher, as deputy education minister in charge of a new department for female students.  He created a regulatory body for capital markets. He has promoted the construction of the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology {Source}. In January 2012, King Abdullah dismissed the head of Saudi Arabia's powerful religious police, replacing him with a more moderate cleric, state news agency SPA reported without giving reasons. He also made strides in interfaith communication, and was the first Saudi ruler to visit the Pope in November 2007 {Source}. He also made strides in his efforts with strengthening relations with other nations. 

King Abdullah followed his father's (King Abdulaziz's) path in terms of marriage in that he married the daughters of the al Shalan of Anizah, al Fayz of Bani Sakhr, and al Jarbah of the Iraqi branch of the Shammar tribe {Source}. King Abdullah had over 11 wives, and fathered more than 16 children, some of his wives were {Source}:

  1. Alanoud Al Fayez (1972-2003), 4 daughters
  2. Jawahir bint Ali Hussein, two children
  3. Aida Fustuq, two children
  4. Munira Al Otaishan, two sons
  5. Munira bint Abdullah Al Al Shaykh, at least 1 son
  6. Tathi bint Mishan al Faisal al Jarba, at least 1 son

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