Abdullah II Al-Sabah

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Abdullah II Sabah II Al-Jaber I Al-Sabah
Reign November 1866 – 1892
Predecessor Sabah II Al-Sabah
Successor Muhammad Al-Sabah
Born 1814
Died May 29, 1892(1892-05-29) (aged 77–78)
Father Sabah II Al-Sabah
Mother Fatma bint Salim Al-Jarrah

Sheikh Abdullah II Sabah II Al-Jabir I Al-Sabah (1814 – 1892) (Arabic: الشيخ عبد الله الثاني صباح الثاني الجابر الصباح ‎) was a lead cavalry commander in the Military of Kuwait, the fifth ruler of Kuwait and oldest son of the fourth ruler of Kuwait. He spent much of his rule dealing with natural disasters, maintaining stability as well as building stronger ties with the Ottoman Empire which supplied the most vital resource in Kuwait, drinking water. Furthermore, the first coins minted by Kuwait began during his reign[1][2]

Physical description[edit]

Sheik Abdullah II, in his later years, was described as tall with a heavy athletic body and a long white beard. He wore a purple bisht made of silk and copiously adorned with gold embroidery over a thawb, with a white silk scarf used as a belt. On both hands rested many diamond rings. At his waist was an ornate janbiya with a hilt made of solid gold, encrusted with pearls and gemstones.[3]

Early life[edit]

Under the orders of his father, on April 24, 1841[4] Abdullah II signed a one-year naval truce with Samuel Hennell[5] who spoke on behalf of the British which expired and was never renewed.[6] The truce prohibited Kuwait from undertaking any form maritime offense as well as giving all mediation efforts in maritime disputes over to the British Empire.[7]


Sheikh Abdullah II excelled in the art of diplomacy and negotiated with both the Al-Saud family as well as the Ottomans to maintain power.[8] Throughout his reign he constantly rebuffed requests from British Commissioner Sir Bealy, speaking on behalf of the British Empire, to rise up against the Ottomans.[9] He ruled from November 1866 to 1892, inheriting a state that had undergone a century long increase merchant marine and navy with stable governance partly due to British support.[10] Upon becoming ruler, he quickly pivoted towards the Ottoman Empire and away from the British. He was considered a modest man with simple tastes[11] and had a high degree of public approval. A great deal of this approval hinged on his relief work during natural disasters. In 1868 a great famine struck and he worked tirelessly to bring an end to the rampant starvation.[12] In September 1871 disaster struck again, this time in the maritime industry of Kuwait. Hundreds of Kuwaiti pearling vessels were sunk along with their crews due to extremely high waves. Historians are split on whether this was due to great storms in the Indian Ocean[1] or caused by the eruption of Bushehr.[13]

In 1886–87, under Sheikh Abdullah II, Kuwait began minting coins in copper due to the lack of Indian rupees circulating in the local economy.[14]

Sheikh Abdullah sided with the Jabir bin Mardaw, Emir of Khorramshar during the Basra and Muhamarrah conflict with the Al-Nasser tribe under his reign, and helped him consolidate power in the region.[15]

Due to his allegiance to the Ottoman Empire, in 1871, he was given the title Kaymakam which means provincial sub-governor.[16]

He also held the title of Pasha.[17]


  1. ^ a b Casey, Michael S. (2007). The History of Kuwait. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 143. ISBN 0313340730. 
  2. ^ Royal Ark
  3. ^ Locher, A. (1889-01-01). With Star and Crescent: A Full and Authentic Account of a Recent Journey with a Caravan from Bombay to Constantinope, Comprising a Description of the Country, the People, and Interesting Adventures with the Natives. Aetna publishing Company. pp. 54–68. 
  4. ^ Alghanim, Salwa (1998-10-15). The Reign of Mubarak-Al-Sabah: Shaikh of Kuwait 1896-1915. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 9781860643507. 
  5. ^ Facey, William; Grant, Gillian (1999-01-01). Kuwait By the First Photographers. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 9781860642715. 
  6. ^ Finnie, David H. (1992-01-01). Shifting Lines in the Sand: Kuwait's Elusive Frontier with Iraq. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 9781850435709. 
  7. ^ Laycock, Stuart (2012-02-29). All the Countries We've Ever Invaded. The History Press. ISBN 9780752483351. 
  8. ^ Alghanim, Salwa (1998-10-15). The Reign of Mubarak-Al-Sabah: Shaikh of Kuwait 1896-1915. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 9781860643507. 
  9. ^ Lauterpacht, E.; Greenwood, C. J.; Weller, Marc (1991-01-01). The Kuwait Crisis: Basic Documents. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521463089. 
  10. ^ DiPiazza, Francesca Davis (2006-12-21). Kuwait in Pictures. Twenty-First Century Books. ISBN 9780822565895. 
  11. ^ Rush, Alan (1987-01-01). Al-Sabah: History & Genealogy of Kuwait's Ruling Family, 1752-1987. Garnet & Ithaca Press. ISBN 9780863720819. 
  12. ^ Zakaria, Mahmoud (May 5, 2015). "Spotlight on the history of Kuwait". Kuwait Times. Kuwait. Retrieved February 27, 2016. 
  13. ^ Sinha, Rajiv; Ravindra, Rasik (2012-08-14). Earth System Processes and Disaster Management. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 162. ISBN 9783642288456. 
  14. ^ Slot, B. (2005-01-01). Mubarak Al-Sabah: Founder of Modern Kuwait 1896-1915. Arabian. ISBN 9780954479244. 
  15. ^ El-Azhary, M. S. (2012). The Iran-Iraq War. UK: Routledge. p. 30. ISBN 113684175X. 
  16. ^ Isiorho, Soloman A.; Gritzner, Charles F. (2009-01-01). Kuwait. Infobase Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 9781438105215. 
  17. ^ Royal Ark
Abdullah II Al-Sabah
 Died: May 1892
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Sabah II Al-Sabah
Sheikh of Kuwait
Succeeded by
Muhammad Al-Sabah