House of Sabah

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The House of Sabah (Arabic: آل صباحAl 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 1756.[1]

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. By 2010 the estimated wealth of the Al-Sabah family may have tripled or even quadrupled, 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.

Kuwait's Rulers and Ruler Emirs[edit]

Ever since Sheikh Sabah the First assumed leadership of Kuwait in 1756, his descendants have ruled over the country humbly unchallenged.

Some governed Kuwait for many years while others were less fortunate with time.

The governing branches of the Al-Sabah dynasty[edit]

Rotating governance of the emirship in the House of Al-Sabah started with the descendants of the 4th monarch Ruler of Kuwait, who's ruling sons where the 5th, 6th and 7th Rulers respectively. Mainly H.H.Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah also known as Mubarak the Great felt uncomfortable with his brother H.H.Sheikh Muhammad Al-Sabah; therefore, Al-Sabah stripped the rulership from the 6th monarch Ruler of Kuwait and proclaimed himself the 7th monarch Ruler and main prime from which the descendant of the two; H.H. Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah II Al-Sabah,8th Ruler of Kuwait (1915–1917) and H.H.Sheikh Salem Mubarak Al-Sabah II Al-Sabah, 9th Ruler of Kuwait (1917–1921); rotate the current 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 merited leadership of the State of Kuwait.

The elder of the three brothers H.H.Sheikh Abdallah II Sabah II Al-Jaber I Al-Sabah; the 5th monarch Ruler of Kuwait; paralleled descendants who served the Al-Sabah dynasty and Kuwait with high distinction and made the ultimate sacrifice going above and beyond.[4] Among them is Battle of Jahra's martyred monarch shahid Cavalry Commander H.E.Sheikh Jaber Abdullah II Al-Sabah II Al-Sabah (b.1860–d.1920)  and the descendants of his son H.E.Sheikh Abdullah Jaber Al-Abdullah II Al-Sabah (b.1898–d.1996) (WIA); a contemporary of seven Rulers and Ruler Emirs.[4]

Al-Sabah hierarchy and lineage[edit]

Sheikh 1718–64
Sheikh 1764–1814
Sheikh 1814–59
Sheikh 1859–66
Sheikh 1866–92
Sheikh 1892–96
also called
Mubarak The Great
Sheikh 1896–1915
Sheikh 1915–17
Sheikh 1917–21
Sheikh 1921–50
Emir 1950–65
Emir 1965–77
Emir 1977–2006
Emir 2006 – present
Crown Prince
Interior minister
Emir 2006
Muhammad al-Sabah,
Former Foreign Minister
Former Prime Minister

Recent events[edit]

Late Emir H.H.Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah was removed by parliamentary action after a prolonged stalemate following the death of the previous Emir, H.H.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, H.H.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.

The emir nominated his brother, H.H.Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, as Crown Prince. The emir also nominated his nephew, H.H.Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah, as Prime Minister.

In May 2008, the former Emir, H.H.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[edit]

The Emir: His Highness the 15th Ruler and 5th Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah

The Crown Prince: His Highness Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah

The Prime Minister: His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah

Notable people[edit]

H.H.Sheikh Mubarak Sabah II Al-Jaber I Al-Sabah (b.1837-d. 1915)
H.H.Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (b.1926–d.2006)
H.H.Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah (right) (1930–2008)



  1. ^ Michael Herb (1999). All in the Family: Absolutism, Revolution, and Democracy in Middle Eastern Monarchies. pp. 68–69. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h [1] Al-Diwan Al-Amiri;Al-Sabah Rulers of Kuwait
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m [2] Al-Diwan Al-Amiri; Al-Sabah Rulers of Kuwait
  4. ^ a b c [3], Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense,(Section Arabic Read الجيش الكويتي)
  5. ^ [4] Kuwait National Guard,(Section Arabic Read الحرس الوطني)
  6. ^ a b c d e f g [5], Kuwait History