House of Sabah
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The House of Sabah (Arabic: آل صباح Al Sabah) is the ruling family of Kuwait. They are a clan from the Utub federation which migrated to Kuwait in the early 18th century, from Basra and Najd. After reaching Kuwait, they entered in an alliance with the other families such as Al-Khalifa and Al Jalahma. The Al Sabah family has been Kuwait's monarchy since 1938.
The Emir of Kuwait is the head of the executive branch. He is nominated by a family council headed by the most senior and prominent members of the Al-Sabah. The leadership is not strictly hereditary and although some emirs have succeeded their fathers, the family chooses the leader from each succeeding generation. For example, the late Jaber Al-Sabah appointed his cousin, Sheikh Saad, as heir apparent.
The Kuwaiti parliament (per Article 3 of the Constitution) has the constitutional right to approve and disapprove of an emir's appointment, therefore the parliament has the authority to remove an emir from his post. The parliament effectively removed Saad al-Sabah from his post in 2006 due to his illness.
Some (not all) members of the monarchy receive a monthly stipend from the Amiri Diwan. The prime minister is selected by the Emir of Kuwait and he could be any Kuwaiti citizen. In 1991, right after the Gulf War, a Time magazine article stated that the Al-Sabah family have an estimated wealth of $90 billion, with investments mostly in the United States. "The al-Sabah family by now was unimaginably rich, with an estimated wealth of some 90 billion dollars. They had invested about 50 billion dollars in the stocks of US companies." By 2010, almost 20 years later, the estimated wealth of the Al-Sabah family is unknown, but many observers predict that it has tripled, or even quadrupled over the years, as the Al-Sabah's have the largest shares in almost all the blue chip corporations in the Western world, with tens of billions of dollars invested in companies from Citibank to Daimler AG to Merrill Lynch.
- 1 The origins of Kuwait
- 2 Kuwait's rulers
- 3 The governing branches of the Al-Sabah dynasty
- 4 Al-Sabah hierarchy and lineage
- 5 Leadership in the Al-Sabah dynasty and beyond
- 6 Recent events
- 7 Titles and official protocol designations
- 8 Notable men
- 9 Other notable members
- 10 Notable women
- 11 See also
- 12 References
The origins of Kuwait
The importance of the Persian Gulf and Kuwait in history and in the international relations and international trade in particular stretches back to the old distant ages. The present land of Kuwait was located within the Arabian middle lands of the State of Kendah which emerged during the period from the 3rd to 5th centuries AD.
The archeological excavation commenced by the effort of the Danish mission in Failaka Island in 1958 proved that an ancient historical civilization existed in Kuwait. The present land of the State of Kuwait is connected in the west to the Arabian Peninsula which is an inseparable part of it. Also from the sea side, it forms a part of the Persian Gulf coast. On that basis, the ancient and middle history are firmly related to the Arabian Peninsula, its residents and the Persian Gulf area.
Historians mentioned that when the Macedonian Alexander (the Great), the great Greek conqueror and leader, invaded the east in 326 BC, he discovered a sea way between Al-Sind River and Shatt Alarab through the Persian Gulf in 326 BC. He stayed with some of his soldiers in Failaka and discovered in the Island "Ikariues" stone, written upon by the Greeks, along with other many antiques. It is historical proof that certifies the emergence of an old civilization in Kuwait that was contemporary to the ancient eastern civilizations.
One of the historians stated that the land of Kuwait witnessed a day of the war between Al-Harith bin Amro bin Hajr Al-Kindi and the King of Al-Munathira, Al-Munthir bin Maa Al-Samaa Al-Lakhmi who defeated Al-Hareth at Warbah Island in the pre-Islamic époque.
In addition, the coasts of the Persian Gulf witnessed the first clash in the onset of Islam between the Persians and the Muslims during the period of Caliphate Abu Baker Al-Sideeq in 12 AH., 633 AD, in Kadhima (That Al-Salasil) which was known later as Kuwait.
From the end of the 9th century to the end of 11th century., the region of Kuwait was integrated with a great part of Arabian Peninsula within the strong State of Al-Karamitah, which threatened the Abassied Caliphate in Baghdad. After the collapse of that state, which many historians described as "the first socialist state in the history", a group of local and tribal emirates emerged and continued to the end of the 15th century. The port of Kazdhema on the coast of Kuwait served as the nautical gate to the east side of Arabian Peninsula during that period.
In the modern ages Banu Khalid became the strongest Arab tribe in this region and were able at the end of the 15th century to occupy larger areas stretching from Basra to Qatar including Kuwait. The Sheikhs of Banu Khalid refused to surrender to Ottoman Turkish power after that. When sheikh, Barrak bin Areiar took over the leadership of Bani Khalid in 1669 AD., he sieged Alhafoof city. It was part of Alhasa, until it collapsed after the surrender of the Ottomen ruler Omar Basha. Therefore, the Ottomen Turkish power over the east coast of the Persian Gulf practically ended.
The importance of Kuwait aroused when some highly dignified families, like Al-Sabah and other families who immigrated with them, who belong to Eneza tribe and others, lived in it. They were the first to build stone houses there. Kuwait was initially called Qurain. It is the name that appeared in the European maps in the 18th and 19th centuries. Then the name was changed to "Kuwait". The word Kuwait is a minor of the word Kout. Barrak, the Emir of Bani Khalid, was the first to build Alkout as a storehouse at the end of 1110 AH (1698 AD).
The Al-Sabah, Al-Kahlifa, Al-Zaid Al-Jalahma and Al-Mo'awda families, were the first to migrate to Kuwait with a group of bedouins and fishermen. Sabah the First was chosen as the Emir of Kuwait in 1110-1130 AH.
The history of Al-Sabah family in Kuwait goes back to 1613 AD. According to a letter from Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah to the British dweller in the Persian Gulf regarding the demarcation of boundaries of Kuwait he stated: "Kuwait is a barren land our Grandfather Sabah lived in it in 1022 AH. 1613 AD." Then he referred to the emergence of Kuwait that we have mentioned previously and which was supported by a group of resources. Many stories stated its stability and development in the period 1469 AD, which is the year the people of Qurain sent ships and weapons to Nasser Bin Murshid, the Sultan of Oman, to assist him against the Portuguese resistance aiming to occupy the Persian Gulf area. During this historical period, the researchers found clear references of the stability, advancement, and progress of Kuwait which show that there was no political disorder or conflicts that led to changing or transforming the ruling system. The reference of Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah to the history of Al-Sabah family in Kuwait since 1022 AH. 1613 AD in his letter has no means to oppose or weaken it. So historically, the first ruler of Al-Sabah family is Sheikh Sabah bin Jaber, also known as Sabah the First who departed in 1190 AH. (1776 AD).
Ever since Sheikh Sabah the First assumed leadership of Kuwait in 1756, his descendants have ruled over the country unchallenged.
Some governed Kuwait for many years while others were less fortunate with time.
1st Emir ::Sheikh Sabah I bin Jaber: 1756-1762.
2nd Emir ::Sheikh Abdullah I: 1762-1812.
3rd Emir ::Sheikh Jaber I: 1812-1859.
4th Emir ::Sheikh Sabah II: 1859-1866.
5th Emir ::Sheikh Abdallah II: 1866-1892.
6th Emir ::Sheikh Mohammad I: 1892 - 1896.
7th Emir ::Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah: 1896 - 1915.
8th Emir ::Sheikh Jaber II: 1915-1917.
9th Emir ::Sheikh Salim Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah: 1917-1921.
10th Emir ::Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah: 1921 -1950
11th Emir ::Sheikh Abdullah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah: 1950 -1965.
12th Emir ::Sheikh Sabah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah: 1965-1977.
13th Emir ::Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah: 1977-2006.
14th Emir ::The Father-Figure Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah : (15 January 2006 - 29 January 2006).
15th Emir ::Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Emir of the State of Kuwait : (2006- Current)
The governing branches of the Al-Sabah dynasty
Rotating governance of the emirship in the House of Al-Sabah started with the descendants of the 4th Emir of Kuwait who's sons where the 5th, 6th and 7th emir respectively. Mainly Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah also known as Mubarak the Great felt uncomfortable with his brother Sheikh Muhammad Al-Sabah; therefore, Al-Sabah stripped the emirship from the 6th emir of Kuwait and proclaimed himself the 7th emir and main prime from which the offspring of the two - Jaber and Salem - rotate the emirship of Kuwait. In the meantime the situation has changed because other offsprings have been posted to the most important Ministries leading them to champion the leadership of the State of Kuwait.
Contrary to Sheikh Mohammed Al-Sabah; the elder of the three brothers Sheikh Abdullah II Al-Sabah; the 5th Emir of Kuwait paralleled descendants who served the Al-Sabah Dynasty and Kuwait with high distinction and made the ultimate sacrifice of duty going above and beyond. Among them is Cavalry Commander Sheikh Jaber Abdullah II Sabah II Al-Sabah (1860-1920) and the descendants of Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jaber Abdullah II Al-Sabah (1898-1996); a contemporary of seven Emirs.
Al-Sabah hierarchy and lineage
Leadership in the Al-Sabah dynasty and beyond
Like most countries that are governed by political parties; much of the Arab world and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries more specifically are governed by tribal leadership. Such leadership philosophy centers power around seniority and age mainly. While not an absolute policy; responsibility of tasks handed have overlooked the concept of seniority. Such rare cases are applicable when the handler be of a highly merited persona.
Much of the Gulf Cooperation Council have deep tribal ties. Also, these rooted tribal belongings can be traced to other Arab countries. Therefore, tribal leadership and loyalties sometimes extends beyond the demarcation of borders and countries.
Since Sheikh Sabah the First assumed leadership of the country in 1756; not only have the Al-Sabah ruled unchallenged but their ambitions never exceeded their borders unlike other neighbors. The Al-Sabah Dynasty maintained and has always focused on the Defense of Kuwait only along with the security and safety of the People of Kuwait from invading tribes or foreign regimes intending to harm the innocent unjustifiably. Such nobility can only be validated through the rich and vibrant history of the contributions and sacrifices on behalf of serving Kuwaiti Men and Kuwaiti Women.
The dynasty's main priority is the People of Kuwait and their well being with lesser concerns on keeping track of historical accounts. The First Gulf War was a traumatic and devastating test for the People of Kuwait. Following the invasion; Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the late emir, issued an Emiri Decree No. 38 of the year 1991 in 19 June 1991 to establish the Martyr Bureau. His companion Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Current emir of Kuwait has completed this patronage and sought to achieve the lofty goals crystallized in honoring martyrs, their heroism, their patriotism, caring for their families and their sacrifice in defending their homeland and its dignity. Nevertheless, according to Kuwait News Agency KUNA; out of around 600 people only 236 remains have, thus far, been found and identified. The families of those still missing yearn to lay their loved ones to rest.
The enduring fortitude and indomitable will of The Unknown Soldier along with the quest of identifying the remains of missing Kuwaiti civilians and Kuwaiti POWs are the pinnacle missions that represent the corps essence of the State of Kuwait.
Late Emir Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah was removed by parliamentary action after a prolonged stalemate following the death of the previous emir, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, on 15 January 2006. He was earlier offered the chance to abdicate after taking power provisionally as stipulated by the constitution, but his inability to recite the oath of office prevented his ratification by parliament.
The then Prime Minister, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, was nominated for the post of emir by invoking Article 3 of the Kuwaiti Constitution. He was sworn in on 29 January 2006 and is the current ruler.
In May 2008, the former emir, Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah, died after battling health problems for years. He was buried the following day in accordance with Muslim tradition. He was 78 years old.
Titles and official protocol designations
The emir: His Highness The Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
- Sheikh Jaber Abdullah II Sabah II Al-Sabah(1860-1920).
Cavalry Commander; Al-Sabah held the Cavalry Line outside the Jahra Red Fort(Qasr Al-Ahmar) and lead the Men of the Kuwaiti Cavalry to victory outnumbered in mass. Battle of Jahra (1920) claimed his bravery.
- Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jaber Abdullah II Al-Sabah (1898-1996).
Knight and Squadron Commander in Battle of Hamdh (1919), Battle of Jahra (1920) and Battle of Al-Regei (1928), Commander General of Defense and Security Forces in Metropolitan and Desert Areas (1928-1938), Head of Courts Department (1928- 1961), Head of the first Municipality (1932), Head of the Municipality Department (1932- 1937), Head of the first Education Council (1936), Head of the Education Department (1937-1961), Head of the First Awqaf Department (1948- 1961), Head of the Orphans Department (1949- 1961), Member of the Higher Council for Administering the Country Affairs (1961-1962), The First Minister of Education in the Independence Era (1962-1965), Minister of Commerce and Industry (1965-1971), Special Adviser to the Rulers of Kuwait and Prominent Kuwait Political Figure; he was a contemporary of 7 Emirs. Special Adviser to the Emir of Kuwait in the reign of Late Sheikh Sabah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah (1971-1977). Special Adviser to the Emir of Kuwait in the reign of Late Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (1977-1996).
- Sheikh Salem Al-Ali Al-Salem Al-Sabah (1926-Present).
- Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (1926-2006).
13th Official Emir of the State of Kuwait. Lead the Kuwaiti Government in exile from Saudi Arabia during the First Gulf War. Took care of all Kuwaiti Families deposed in foreign countries. Al-Sabah and his Government lobbied extensively for military support during the First Gulf War to relieve the people of Kuwait that could not leave and received support from a United Nations mandated coalition led by the United States.
- Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah ( 1929- Present).
15th Official Emir of the State of Kuwait (2006- Present). Foreign Minister of the State of Kuwait (1963-2003). Al-Sabah joined the former Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in the United Nations in a meeting with U.S. President George H. W. Bush and other Coalition Allies to help in liberating Kuwait.
- Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah ( 1930- 2008).
- Sheikh Mubarack Al-Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (1934-1987).
- Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah ( 1937- Present).
- Sheikh Salem Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah (1938–2007).
Former Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, Minister of Interior, Social Affairs and Foreign Minister.
- Sheikh Misha'al Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (1940- Present).
- Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah( 1940- Present).
Former Prime Minister of the State of Kuwait (2006-2011).
- Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah(1942- Present).
Current Prime Minister of the State of Kuwait (2011- Present). Former Defense Minister (2006-2011).
- Sheikh Saud Nasser Al-Saud Al-Sabah (1944-2012).
- Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah(1945-1990)
Commander of 2nd Battalion of Kuwait Special Forces and Officer of the Kuwait Emiri Guard. Al-Sabah held his ground outnumbered in mass along the men of the Emiri Guard. The Battle of Dasman Palace (1990) claimed his bravery.
- Sheikh Jaber Al-Khaled Al-Sabah( TBD -Present).
Lieutenant General; Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.
Kuwait Emiri Guards Founder.
- Sheikh Muhammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah (1955- Present).
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister (2005-2011).
- Sheikh Ahmad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah( TBD - Present).
Lieutenant General;Former Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister (2012-2013).
- Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah( TBD - Present).
Lieutenant General; Former Chief of Staff of Kuwait Armed Forces (2012). Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense (2013- Current).
- Sheikh Ahmad Al-Nawaf Al-Sabah ( TBD - Present)
Major General; President of the International Police Sports Union.
- Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah (1963- Present).
Major in the Kuwaiti Army; Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister of State for Development Affairs and Minister of State for Housing Affairs. Minister of Information (2000), Minister of Oil (2001), Director of the National Security Agency (2006). President of the Olympic Council of Asia (1991- Present).
Other notable members
- Sheikh Khalid Al-Sabah
Royal Majestic Charity Foundation.
- Sheikh Faisal H. M Al Sabah
- Sheikha Hussah Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah
Director of Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah (Kuwait National Museum).
- Sheikha Nayirah al-Sabah
- Sheikha Souad Mohammed Al-Sabah
Poet, winner of the 2012 Manhae Prize.
- Michael Herb (1999). All in the Family: Absolutism, Revolution, and Democracy in Middle Eastern Monarchies. pp. 68–69.
- Al Sabah: History and Genealogy of Kuwait’s Ruling Family 1752-1987 by Alan Rush (Ithaca Press, 1987)
- Burke’s Ruling Families of the World, Volume 2 (Burke’s Peerage, 1980), includes genealogies and essays on Al-Sabah (Kuwait)
- Records of Kuwait ed., Alan Rush (8 vols. Archive Editions, 1989)