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House of Sabah

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House of Sabah
آل صباح
Emblem and flag of Kuwait
Parent houseBani Utbah
Foundedc. 1752
FounderSabah I
Current headMishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber
TraditionsSunni and hateful against Shia Islam

The House of Sabah (Arabic: آل صباح Āl Ṣabāḥ) is the ruling family of Kuwait.





The Al Sabah family originate from the Bani Utbah confederation.[1][2] Prior to settling in Kuwait, the Al Sabah family were expelled from Umm Qasr in southern Iraq by the Ottomans due to their predatory habits of preying on caravans in Basra and trading ships in Shatt al-Arab.[3] According to one oral tradition, the Al Sabah family settled across various regions in southern Iran and Iraq,[1] until they finally settled in what is now Kuwait around the mid-1700s.[1] According to another oral tradition, told to the Political Agent by Shaikh Abdulla, the Sabahs fled drought in central Arabia in the early 1700s. They migrated south, but finding conditions bleaker still, returned and now with other families migrated to Zubara, on Qatar's west coast. Conditions there were no better so they migrated again, this time north to Kuwait where, finding water, they settled. On the last leg of the journey they had atabu-ila al-shimal (moved to the north). And that, according to one tradition, was the origin of the name Bani Utub.[4] Soon after founding a settlement in Kuwait, a Sabah became leader, ruling until his death in 1762.

Mubarak the Great


The reign of Mubarak the Great (1896-1915) forged the critical alliance between Kuwait and Britain. In the late 19th century, resurgent Ottoman power coupled with rising Al-Saud power drew Kuwait closer to the Ottomans. This began to change as the century closed. When Sheikh Mohammed came to power in 1892, disagreements soon arose between him and his brother Mubarak. Muhammad dealt with this by busying Mubarak with affairs outside the capital. In 1896 he summoned his sons, Jabir and Salim, and some supporters and rode to Kuwait, secretly entering Muhammed's house. There he killed Muhammed and his brother Jarrah. In the morning, Mubarak announced that his brothers had died, and that he ruled in their stead.[4]

Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salim


Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah ended the British protectorate status of Kuwait by signing a treaty with the British on 19 June 1961. He introduced the Constitution of Kuwait in 1962, followed by the Parliament in 1963.[5]

Gulf War


During the Gulf War, the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and his government ran the exiled government from a hotel in Ta'if, Saudi Arabia.[4]

From Ta'if, Sheikh Jaber set up his government so that its ministers were in communication with the people still in Kuwait. The government was able to direct an underground armed resistance made up of both military and civilian forces and was able to provide public services to the Kuwaiti people who remained, such as emergency care through the funds that it had saved from oil revenues.[6] In the meantime, Sheikh Jaber and his government lobbied to receive military support action against Iraq before and during the Gulf War. When the war ended on 28 February 1991, Sheikh Jaber remained in Saudi Arabia while declaring three months of martial law.[7]

By imposing martial law, government officials were able to ensure that there were no Iraqis still in Kuwait who may have attempted to once again overthrow the government. They were also tasked with making sure that the country was safe enough for Sheikh Jaber and his government to return, which they eventually did on 15 March 1991.[7]

Public feuds


Kuwaiti political scientist Mohammed Alwuhaib has argued that "members of the Al Sabah [have] interfered in and manipulated political and economic factions as a tool to weaken each other, with allegations of corruption a particularly common tactic."[8][9]

In August 2011, supporters of Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah "discovered" documents that incriminated up to one-third of Kuwaiti politicians in what quickly became the largest political corruption scandal in Kuwaiti history.[10] By October 2011, 16 Kuwaiti politicians were alleged to have received payments of $350m in return for their support of government policy.[11]

In December 2013, allies of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad claimed to possess tapes purportedly showing that Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah and Jassem Al-Kharafi were discussing plans to topple the Kuwaiti government.[12][11] Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad appeared on local channel Al-Watan TV describing his claims.[13]

In April 2014 the Kuwaiti government imposed a total media blackout to ban any reporting or discussion on the issue.[14] In March 2015, Kuwait's public prosecutor dropped all investigations into the alleged coup plot and Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad read a public apology on Kuwait state television renouncing the coup allegations.[15] Since then, "numerous associates of his have been targeted and detained by the Kuwaiti authorities on various charges,"[11] most notably members of the so-called "Fintas Group" that had allegedly been the original circulators of the fake coup video.[11][16]

In December 2015, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad was convicted of "disrespect to the public prosecutor and attributing a remark to the country's ruler without a special permission from the emir's court," issuing a suspended six-month prison sentence and a fine of 1,000 Kuwaiti Dinar. In January 2016, the Kuwaiti appeals court overturned the prior ruling and cleared Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad of all charges.[17]

In November 2018, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad, along with four other defendants, were charged in Switzerland with forgery related to the fake coup video.[18] Shortly thereafter, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad temporarily stepped aside from his role at the International Olympic Committee, pending an ethics committee hearing into the allegations.[19][20] In August 2021, Sheikh Ahmed attended court alongside three of the other four defendants.[21][22] In September 2021, Sheikh Ahmed was convicted of forgery along with the four other defendants.[23][24] He denied wrongdoing and plans to appeal.[24]

In November 2019, former deputy prime minister and minister of interior Sheikh Khaled Al Jarrah Al Sabah was dismissed from office after minister of defense Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah filed a complaint with the Kuwaiti Attorney General alleging embezzlement of 240 million Kuwaiti dinars ($794.5 million) of Kuwait government funds had taken place during Khaled's tenure as minister of defense.[25] In July 2020, the US Department of Justice filed an asset forfeiture claim against The Mountain Beverly Hills and other real property in the United States, alleging a group of three Kuwaiti officials, including Sheikh Khaled Al Jarrah, set up unauthorized accounts in the name of the country's Military Attache Office in London, known as the 'Army Fund.' They allegedly funded the accounts with over $100m of Kuwaiti public money and used it for their own purposes.[26] In March 2021, the Kuwaiti ministerial court ordered the detention of Khaled Al Jarrah, who was arrested and imprisoned.[27]

On 13 April 2021, a Kuwaiti court ordered the detention of former prime minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah on corruption charges related to the 'Army Fund.'[28] He is the first former Kuwaiti prime minister to face pre-trial detention over graft charges.[29] The crimes allegedly took place during Jaber Al-Sabah's 2001–11 term as defense minister.[28]



Dean of the House


Governing branches


Chieftain Sheikhs of the House of Sabah have been leading the Military of Kuwait since the early establishment of defense infantry and cavalry forces.[32][33][34] Since the forming of the first cabinet on 17 January 1962, all three of the defense ministry, interior ministry and ministry of foreign affairs of Kuwait have been led by members of the House of Sabah.[35]


Sabah I,
1st Ruler Sheikh (1716–1762)
Abdullah I,
2nd Ruler Sheikh (1762–1814)
Jaber I,
3rd Ruler Sheikh (1814–1859)
Sabah II,
4th Ruler Sheikh (1859–1866)
Abdullah II,
5th Ruler Sheikh (1866–1892)
6th Ruler Sheikh (1892–1896)
Mubarak The Great
7th Ruler Sheikh (1896–1915)
Jaber II,
8th Ruler Sheikh (1915–1917)
9th Ruler Sheikh (1917–1921)
General Commander of Kuwait Army
10th Ruler Sheikh (1921–1950)
Abdullah III,
11th Ruler, 1st Emir (1950–1965)

1st Prime Minister
Sabah III,
12th Ruler, 2nd Emir (1965–1977)

1st Foreign Minister
2nd Prime Minister
Minister of Information
Minister of State for Amiri Diwan Affairs
Former Head of Public Security
Mohammed Ahmad Jaber II,
1st Defense Minister
Jaber III,
13th Ruler, 3rd Emir, (1977–2006)

3rd Prime Minister
Sabah IV,
15th Ruler, 5th Emir, (2006–2020)

2nd Foreign Minister
2nd Interior Minister
5th Prime Minister
Nawaf I,
16th Ruler, 6th Emir, (2020–2023)

3rd and 8th Interior Minister
4th Defense Minister
1st National Guard Deputy
Mishal I,
17th Ruler, 7th Emir, (2023–present)

2nd National Guard Deputy
14th Ruler, 4th Emir, 2006

1st Interior Minister
2nd Defense Minister
4th Prime Minister
4th Interior Minister
3rd and 7th Defense Minister
5th Defense Minister
Mohammad Al-Sabah,
3rd Foreign Minister
10th Prime Minister
Jaber Al-Ali,
Minister of Information
1st National Guard Commander
8th Defense Minister
9th Interior Minister
7th Prime Minister
Crown Prince,
4th Foreign Minister
8th Prime Minister
7th and 12th Interior Minister
12th Defense Minister
10th Defense Minister
11th Prime Minister
6th Prime Minister
13th Defense Minister
3rd National Guard Deputy
18th Interior Minister
9th Prime Minister
15th Interior Minister
15th Defense Minister
5th Foreign Minister

See also



  1. ^ a b c B. Slot (1991). The Origins of Kuwait. BRILL. pp. 70–71. ISBN 9004094091.
  2. ^ Hamad Ibrahim Abdul Rahman Al Tuwaijri (1996). "Political power and rule in Kuwait" (PhD Thesis). Glasgow University. p. 6. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  3. ^ "'Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf. Vol I. Historical. Part IA & IB. J G Lorimer. 1915' [1000] (1155/1782)". qdl.qa. 30 September 2014. p. 1000. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Crystal, Jill (1990). Oil and politics in the Gulf : rulers and merchants in Kuwait and Qatar. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-36639-9. OCLC 19722357.
  5. ^ Herb, Michael (2014). The wages of oil : Parliaments and economic development in Kuwait and the UAE. Ithaca. ISBN 978-0-8014-5469-1. OCLC 897815115.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  6. ^ Schmitt, Eric; Times, Special To the New York (5 January 1991). "Confrontation in the Gulf;". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  7. ^ a b Ibrahim, Youssef M.; Times, Special To the New York (4 March 1991). "AFTER THE WAR: Kuwait City; Nagging Question Lies Beneath Kuwait's Rejoicing: When Is the Emir Coming Home?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  8. ^ Alwuhaib, Mohammed (30 November 2012). "Kuwait: The Crisis and its Future". Arab Reform Bulletin. 63: 2.
  9. ^ Ulrichsen, Kristian; Henderson, Simon (4 October 2019). "Kuwait: A Changing System Under Stress". The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
  10. ^ "Everyone's a loser as Kuwait's 'Black Wednesday' leaves opposition weaker and regime foundering | Gulf States Newsletter". www.gsn-online.com. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d Diwan, Kristin Smith. "Kuwait's constitutional showdown". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  12. ^ "'Fake' video tape ends Kuwait coup investigation". BBC News. 18 March 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  13. ^ "فيديو: أحمد الفهد الصباح عبر قناة الوطن: يشرح قصة (الشريط) وكيف تعامل معه: وصلني من مصدر مجهول !". مدونة الزيادي (in Arabic). Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  14. ^ "Kuwait orders media blackout on 'coup' video". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  15. ^ "Indicted Kuwaiti Sheikh Steps Aside From I.O.C. (Published 2018)". The New York Times. The Associated. 19 November 2018. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  16. ^ "Kuwaiti royals jailed after appeal in social media case fails". ArabianBusiness.com. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  17. ^ "Kuwaiti court overturns conviction of ruling family member - media". Reuters (in Portuguese). 26 January 2016. Archived from the original on 20 October 2020. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  18. ^ "Powerful Kuwaiti IOC member to be tried in Switzerland for forgery". France 24. 17 November 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  19. ^ "Indicted Kuwaiti Sheikh Steps Aside From I.O.C. (Published 2018)". The New York Times. 19 November 2018. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  20. ^ "Sheikh Ahmad al-Sabah stands down from IOC amid forgery allegations". The Guardian. 19 November 2018. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  21. ^ "Trial of Olympic sheikh on forgery charges opens in Geneva". AP NEWS. 30 August 2021. Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  22. ^ "Olympic official quizzed for 5 hours in Geneva forgery trial". ABC News. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  23. ^ Farge, Emma (10 September 2021). "Kuwait's Sheikh Ahmad convicted of forgery in Geneva trial". Reuters.
  24. ^ a b Panja, Tariq (10 September 2021). "Olympics Power Broker Convicted in Forgery Case". New York Times.
  25. ^ "Kuwait Defence Minister Shaikh Nasser takes aim at outgoing premier Jaber". gulfnews.com. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  26. ^ "Stolen Kuwaiti Money in Beverly Hills 'Mountain,' U.S. Says". Bloomberg.com. 16 July 2020. Retrieved 19 September 2021.
  27. ^ "Kuwait transfers ex-interior minister to prison pending probe". Middle East Monitor. 15 March 2021. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  28. ^ a b "Former Kuwaiti premier held on corruption charges". www.aa.com.tr.
  29. ^ "Kuwait: Sheikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah detained". gulfnews.com.
  30. ^ "KUWAIT NATIONAL GUARD - الحرس الوطني الكويتي -". kng.gov.kw.
  31. ^ "Kuwait National Guard - الحرس الوطني الكويتي -". kng.gov.kw. Archived from the original on 3 March 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  32. ^ "Kuwait National Guard - الحرس الوطني الكويتي -". kng.gov.kw. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  33. ^ YouTube. youtube.com.
  34. ^ "Kuwait National Guard - الحرس الوطني الكويتي -". kng.gov.kw. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  35. ^ "Nine ministers headed Interior Ministry since Kuwait's independence". KUNA. 7 February 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2013.