Fahd of Saudi Arabia

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Fahd
Official Portrait of King Fahd
King of Saudi Arabia
Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Reign13 June 1982 – 1 August 2005
Bay'ah13 June 1982
PredecessorKhalid
SuccessorAbdullah
Minister of Interior
In office1962–1975
PredecessorFaisal bin Turki I bin Abdulaziz
SuccessorNayef bin Abdulaziz
Prime MinisterKing Saud
King Faisal
Minister of Education
In office1953–1962
PredecessorOffice established
SuccessorAbdullah bin Saleh bin Obaid
Prime MinisterKing Saud
Born1921 or 1923
Riyadh, Nejd
Died1 August 2005 (age 82 or 84)
King Faisal Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Burial2 August 2005
IssueFaisal bin Fahd
Khaled bin Fahd
Muhammad bin Fahd
Saud bin Fahd
Sultan bin Fahd
Abdulaziz bin Fahd
Latifa bint Fahd
HouseHouse of Saud
FatherKing Abdulaziz
MotherHassa bint Ahmed Al Sudairi

Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Arabic: فهد بن عبد العزيز آل سعودFahd ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Āl Sa‘ūd; 1921 or 1923 – 1 August 2005) was King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques from 13 June 1982 to his death. He was the eighth son of King Abdulaziz, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia. He was also the fourth of Abdulaziz's six sons who were kings (Saud, Faisal, Khalid, Abdullah and Salman).

Fahd was appointed crown prince when his brother Khalid succeeded another brother King Faisal, who was assassinated in 1975. Fahd was viewed as the de facto prime minister during King Khalid's reign in part due to the latter's ill health. Fahd ascended to the throne on the death of King Khalid in 1982.

King Fahd is credited for having introduced the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia in 1992. He suffered a debilitating stroke in 1995, after which he was unable to continue performing his full official duties. His brother Crown Prince Abdullah served as de facto regent of the kingdom and succeeded Fahd as king upon his death in 2005.

Early life and education[edit]

King Abdulaziz, father of Fahd

Fahd bin Abdulaziz was born in Riyadh in 1921[1] or 1923.[2][3] He was the eighth son of Abdulaziz.[4] His mother was Hassa bint Ahmed Al Sudairi,[5] and Fahd was the eldest member of the Sudairi Seven.[6]

Fahd's education took place at the Princes' School in Riyadh, a school established by King Abdulaziz specifically for the education of members of the House of Saud.[7] He received education for four years as a result of his mother's urging.[8] While at the Princes' School, Fahd studied under tutors including Sheikh Abdul Ghani Khayat.[9] He then went on to receive education at the Religious Knowledge Institute in Mecca.[7][10]

Early political roles[edit]

Prince Fahd was made a member of the royal advisory board at his mother's urging.[11] In 1945, Prince Fahd traveled on his first state visit to San Francisco for the signing of the UN charter.[12] On this trip he served under his brother Prince Faisal who was at the time Saudi Arabia's foreign minister.[10] Fahd led his first official state visit in 1953, attending the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on behalf of the House of Saud.[9][13][14] On 24 December 1953, Prince Fahd was appointed education minister, being the first person holding this post in the country.[15][16]

Interior Minister Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud with Ibrahim bin Abdullah Al Suwaiyel, Saudi Ambassador to the United States

Prince Fahd led the Saudi delegation to the League of Arab States in 1959, signifying his increasing prominence in the House of Saud and his being groomed for a more significant role. In 1962, Fahd was given the important post of interior minister.[8] As interior minister he headed the Saudi delegation at a meeting of Arab Heads of State in Egypt in 1965.[10] At the beginning of King Faisal's reign Prince Fahd became a member of the council which had been established by the king to guide the succession issues.[17] On 2 January 1967 Prince Fahd survived an assassination attempt when an explosion occurred in his private office at the ministry.[18] He was not there during the incident, but the explosion injured nearly 40 staff of the ministry.[18] He was named second deputy prime minister the same year which was created for the first time by King Faisal.[10][19] The post was created upon the request of then Crown Prince Khalid due to the fact that he himself did not want to continue to preside over the council of ministers.[20] King Faisal was not very enthusiastic about the appointment of Prince Fahd to the post.[20]

Crown Prince[edit]

Crown Prince Fahd and King Khalid at a ceremony
U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Crown Prince Fahd in 1978

After the death of King Faisal in 1975, Fahd was named first deputy prime minister and concurrently crown prince in 1975.[21][22] Although Prince Fahd had two elder brothers, Prince Nasser and Prince Saad, who had prior claims to the throne, both were considered unsuitable candidates.[21] By contrast, Prince Fahd had served as minister of education from 1954 to 1960 and minister of interior from 1962 to 1975.[21]

The appointment of Prince Fahd as both crown prince and first deputy prime minister made him a much more powerful figure in contrast to the status of King Khalid when he had been crown prince during King Faisal's reign.[23] During this period Prince Fahd was one of the members of the inner family council which was led by King Khalid and included his brothers Prince Mohammed, Prince Abdullah, Prince Sultan and Prince Abdul Muhsin as well as two of his surviving uncles, Prince Ahmed and Prince Musaid.[24]

Reign[edit]

King Fahd gave money for building mosques throughout the world. The Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque, at Europa Point Gibraltar, which opened in 1997, is one such mosque.

When King Khalid died on 13 June 1982, Fahd succeeded to the throne[25] being the fifth king of Saudi Arabia.[26] However, the most active period of his life was not his reign, but when he was Crown Prince.[27] He adopted the title "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques" in 1986, replacing "His Majesty", to signify an Islamic rather than secular authority.[10]

Foreign policy[edit]

King Fahd shares a laugh with US President George H. W. Bush

Fearing that the 1979 Iranian Revolution could lead to similar Islamic upheaval in Saudi Arabia, Fahd spent considerable sums, after ascending the throne in 1982, to support Saddam Hussein's Iraq in its war with Iran.[28] In fact, according to United States Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Fahd told Haig in April 1981 that he had been used as an intermediary by President Jimmy Carter to convey an official U.S. "green light to launch the war against Iran" to Iraq, although there is considerable skepticism about this claim.[29][30]

Fahd was a supporter of the United Nations. He supported foreign aid and gave 5.5% of Saudi Arabia's national income through various funds especially the Saudi Fund for Development and the OPEC Fund for International Development. He also gave aid to foreign groups such as the Bosnian Muslims in the Yugoslav Wars, as well as the Nicaraguan Contras, providing "a million dollars per month from May to December 1984".[31] King Fahd was also a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause and an opponent of the State of Israel.[32] Towards the beginning of Fahd's reign, he was a staunch ally of the United States, and has been quoted by the CIA as saying, "After Allah, we can count on the United States."[33] However, Fahd distanced himself from the US throughout parts of his reign, declining to allow US to use Saudi airbases to protect naval convoys after the attack on the USS Stark, and in 1988 agreed to buy between fifty and sixty nuclear-payload-capable CSS-2 intermediate-range ballistic missiles.[34]

King Fahd developed a peace plan in order to resolve Arab differences particularly between Algeria and Morocco.[35][36] He also actively contributed to the Taif accord in 1989 that ended conflict in Lebanon.[16][35] In addition, he led the Arab world against the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq.[35] He developed a special bond with both Syrian President Hafez Assad and Egyptian President Hosni Mobarak during his reign.[37]

Islamic activities[edit]

He took steps to support the conservative Saudi religious establishment, including spending millions of dollars on religious education,[38] strengthened separation of the sexes and power of the religious police, publicly endorsed Sheikh Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz's warning to young Saudis to avoid the path of evil by not traveling to Europe and the United States.[39] This further distanced him from his inconvenient past.[38]

Gulf War, 1991[edit]

US Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney meets with Defence Minister Sultan bin Abdulaziz to discuss how to handle the invasion of Kuwait

In 1990, Iraqi forces under Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, placing the Iraqi army (then the largest in the Middle East) on the Saudi-Kuwaiti border. King Fahd agreed to host American-led coalition troops in his Kingdom and later allowed American troops to be based there.[40] This decision brought him considerable criticism and opposition from many Saudi citizens, who objected to the presence of foreign troops on Saudi soil;[41] this was a casus belli against the Saudi royal family prominently cited by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. His decision was also objected to by his full brothers or the Sudairi Seven.[40] Another cause for criticism came when during an event with the British Royal Family, King Fahd was seen wearing a white decoration in the shape of a cross; in 1994 Bin Laden cited this as "abomination" and "clearly infidelity".[42]

Reform and industrialization[edit]

King Fahd showed little tolerance for reformists. In 1992, a group of reformists and prominent Saudi intellectuals petitioned King Fahd for wide-ranging reforms, including widening political representation and curbing the royal family's wasteful spending. King Fahd first responded by ignoring their requests and when they persisted, reformists were harshly persecuted, imprisoned, and fired from their jobs.

During King Fahd's rule, the royal family's lavish spending of the country's wealth reached its height. In addition, the biggest and most controversial military contract of the century, the Al-Yamamah arms deal was signed on his watch.[43] The contract has cost the Saudi treasury more than $90 billion. These funds were originally allocated to building hospitals, schools, universities, and roads. As a result, Saudi Arabia endured a stagnation in infrastructure development from 1986 until 2005 when the new King, Abdullah, fully came into power.

Like all the countries bordering the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia under King Fahd has focused its industrial development on hydrocarbon installations. Up to this day, the country is reliant on imports for nearly all its light and heavy machinery.

King Fahd established a Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs directed by senior family members and technocrats in 1994. The council was planned to function as an ombudsman of Islamic activity concerning educational, economic, and foreign policy matters. The chairman of the council was Prince Sultan. Prince Nayef, Prince Saud Al Faisal and technocrat Mohammed Ali Aba al Khail were appointed to the newly established council. One of the covert purposes of the council was thought to be to reduce the power of the Ulemas Council had been increasing its power.[44]

Succession mechanism[edit]

In an effort to institutionalize succession King Fahd issued a decree on 1 March 1992.[45] The decree expanded the criteria for succession, which had been only seniority and family consensus, and led to speculations.[45] The most significant change by the edict was that the King did acquire the right to appoint or dismiss his heir apparent based on suitability rather than seniority and that the grandsons of Abdulaziz became eligible for the throne.[45]

1995 stroke and aftermath[edit]

Crown Prince Abdullah assumed some of the duties of government after King Fahd's stroke in 1995.

King Fahd was a heavy smoker, overweight for much of his adult life, and in his sixties began to suffer from arthritis and severe diabetes.[6] He suffered a debilitating stroke on 29 November 1995[16] and became noticeably frail, and decided to delegate the running of the Kingdom to Crown Prince Abdullah on 2 January 1996.[41][45][46] On 21 February, King Fahd resumed official duties.[47]

After his stroke King Fahd was partly inactive and had to use a cane and then a wheelchair,[48] though he still attended meetings and received selected visitors. In November 2003, according to government media, King Fahd was quoted as saying to "strike with an iron fist" at terrorists after deadly bombings in Saudi Arabia, although he could hardly utter a word because of his deteriorating health. However, it was Crown Prince Abdullah who took official trips; when King Fahd traveled it was for vacations, and he was sometimes absent from Saudi Arabia for months at a time. When his oldest son and International Olympic Committee member Prince Faisal bin Fahd died in 1999, the King was in Spain and did not return for the funeral.[49]

In a speech to an Islamic conference on 30 August 2003, King Fahd condemned terrorism and exhorted Muslim clerics to emphasize peace, security, cooperation, justice, and tolerance in their sermons.[50]

Wealth[edit]

Fortune Magazine reported his wealth in 1988 at $18 billion (making him the second richest person in the world at that time).[51] Forbes estimated Fahd's wealth to be $25 billion in 2002.[52] In addition to residences in Saudi Arabia he had a palace on Spain's Costa del Sol which made Marbella a famous place.[53]

Recreational activities[edit]

King Fahd was known to enjoy luxurious living abroad and a lavish lifestyle. He visited the ports of the French Riviera, in his 147-metre (482 ft) yacht, the $US100 million Prince Abdulaziz. The ship featured two swimming pools, a ballroom, a gym, a theatre, a portable garden, a hospital with an intensive-care unit and two operating rooms, and four American Stinger missiles.[54] The king also had a personal $US150 million Boeing 747 jet, equipped with his own fountain. In Fahd's younger years, he used to engage in activities considered un-Islamic, such as drinking and gambling. Fahd reportedly lost millions of dollars in casinos and started using illegal methods to regain the same amount.[55] When Fahd's brothers found out about his habits which were considered a disgrace to the House of Saud, he was immediately summoned to King Faisal's palace. Upon arrival, King Faisal slapped him across the face. From then on, Fahd was more circumspect and put a stop to his un-Islamic habits.[56]

Personal life[edit]

King Fahd was married at least thirteen times. The spouses of King Fahd were as follows:

  • Al Anood bint Abdulaziz bin Musaid Al Saud, mother of his eldest five sons, Prince Faisal, Prince Mohammed, Prince Saud, Prince Sultan and Prince Khalid.[57][58][59]
  • Al Jawhara bint Ibrahim Al Ibrahim, mother of Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd
  • Jawza bint Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud (Divorced)[60]
  • Al Jowhara bint Abdullah Al Sudairi (Deceased)
  • Modhi bint Turki bin Abdullah Al Saud (Divorced)
  • Joza'a bint Sultan Al Adgham Al Subaie (Divorced)
  • Turfa bint Abdulaziz bin Mo'amar (Divorced)
  • Watfa bint Obaid bin Ali Al Jabr Al Rasheed (Divorced)
  • Lolwa al Abdulrahman al Muhana Aba al Khail (Divorced)
  • Fatmah bint Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Aldakhil
  • Shaikha bint Turki bin Mariq Al Thit (Divorced)
  • Seeta bint Ghunaim bin Sunaitan Abu Thnain (Divorced)
  • Janan Harb (Widowed)[61]
King Fahd's eldest son, Faisal

King Fahd had six sons and four daughters.[8] His sons are:

  • Faisal bin Fahd (1945–1999) Died of a heart attack. Director-general of Youth Welfare (1971–1999), director-general at ministry of planning and minister of state (1977–1999)
  • Muhammad bin Fahd (born January 1950), former governor of the Eastern province
  • Saud bin Fahd (born 8 October 1950), former deputy president of the General Intelligence Directorate
  • Sultan bin Fahd (born 1951), army officer. Elevated to ministerial rank in November 1997. Former head of Youth Welfare
  • Khalid bin Fahd (born February 1958)[62]
  • Abdulaziz bin Fahd, (born 16 April 1973), Fahd's favourite and youngest son and minister of state without portfolio. He is the son of Princess Jawhara Al Ibrahim, Fahd's fourth and, reportedly, favourite wife.[63]

One of his daughters, Latifa bint Fahd, died at age 54 in Geneva in late December 2013.[64][65] Another daughter, Al Jawhara bint Fahd, who was the wife of Turki bin Mohammad bin Saud Al Kabeer, died in June 2016.[66]

Death[edit]

King Fahd was admitted to the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh on 27 May 2005 for unspecified medical tests.[67] An official (who insisted on anonymity) told the Associated Press unofficially that the king had died at 07:30 on 1 August 2005 at age 84.[68] Official statement was announced on state television at 10:00 by then information minister Iyad Madani.[68]

Funeral[edit]

King Fahd was buried in the last thawb (traditional Arab robe) he wore. Fahd's body was carried to Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque, and funeral prayers were held at around 15:30 local time (12:30 GMT) on 2 August.[68] The prayers for the late monarch were led by the Kingdom's grand mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh.

The body was carried by King Fahd's son, Abdulaziz bin Fahd to the mosque and to the Al Oud cemetery some two kilometres away, a public cemetery where Fahd's four predecessors and other members of the Al Saud ruling family are buried.[69][70]

Arab and Muslim dignitaries who attended the funeral were not present at the burial. Only ruling family members and Saudi citizens were on hand as the body was lowered into the grave.

Muslim leaders offered condolences at the mosque, while other foreign dignitaries and leaders who came after the funeral paid their respects at the royal court.

In accordance with regulations and social traditions, Saudi Arabia declared a national mourning period of three days during which all offices were closed. Government offices remained closed for the rest of the week.[68] The state flag was not lowered (since the flag of Saudi Arabia bears the Shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith, the flag's protocol requires the flag not to be lowered)

After his death, many Arab countries declared mourning periods.[7] Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Syria, Yemen, the Arab League in Cairo, and the Palestinian Authority all declared three-day mourning periods.[7] Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates declared a seven-day mourning period and ordered all flags flown at half-staff.[71] In Jordan, a national three-day mourning period was declared and a 40-day mourning period was decreed at the Royal Court.

Many foreign dignitaries attended the funeral, such as US Vice President Dick Cheney, French President Jacques Chirac, King Juan Carlos of Spain, Prince Charles of the United Kingdom, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Singapore President of Singapore S.R. Nathan, and President of Mauritania Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya (under deposition).

Honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit (1977)[72]

In 1984, King Fahd received the Faisal Prize for Service to Islam awarded by the King Faisal Foundation.[77]

Ancestry[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Fahd of Saudi Arabia
Born: 1921 Died: 2005
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Khalid
King of Saudi Arabia
13 June 1982 – 1 August 2005
Succeeded by
Abdullah
Saudi Arabian royalty
Preceded by
Khalid
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
25 March 1975 – 13 June 1982
Succeeded by
Abdullah
Political offices
New title Minister of Education
1953–1962
Succeeded by
Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh
Preceded by
Faisal bin Turki I
Minister of Interior
1962–1975
Succeeded by
Nayef bin Abdulaziz
Preceded by
Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia
1982–2005
Succeeded by
Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud