Biography of Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud o Ibn Saud (1880-1953)

King and founder of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia born in Riyadh in 1880 and died in Taif in 1953.

Son of the Imam Abdul Rahman of the powerful family Al Saud, who had consolidated their authority throughout the greater part of the Arabian Peninsula, throughout the 19th century was born in a moment of decline of the power of his family and the Wahhabi movement. In 1890, threatened by rivals the Rashid, Al-Saud family abandoned the Peninsula and was forced to flee to Kuwait, where the young Abdul Aziz took the years of exile to increase their education and, especially, their knowledge of international politics. Meanwhile, the Regent of the to the Rashid in Riyadh he/she ruled his people with an iron hand and resulted in an environment prone to insurrection.

In December 1901, only 21 years old, Abdul Aziz, at that time a great rider and an imposing physical presence, assembled a force of 40 men, mainly friends yours, and undertook an expedition to retrieve Riyadh. On January 15, 1902, with only 15 warriors, he/she climbed part of the wall of the city adjacent to the home of a former server from his father, whose wife provided crucial information to the emir Ajlani, Governor of Riyadh. In a surprise attack on his residence, the emir was killed; the garrison of Riyadh, demoralized by the death of the Governor, assuming that such an attack only could have been organized by a large force and the support of the population to the return of the Al Saud, surrendered without resistance.

Thus began the fight to expand the control of the Al Saud by all Arabia and restore the accomplishments of their ancestors in the 18th century. Towards the end of 1904, despite continued support from the Ottoman Empire, most of the forces of the to the Rashid had disappeared and that were concentrated in the area of Jammal Shammar, North of Nejd (the central region around Riyadh). Thanks to the successful guerrilla tactics of the Warriors of the desert of Abdul Aziz and his diplomatic negotiations, the Ottoman Empire was forced to withdraw its troops and in 1906, with the death of to the Rashid, Ibn Saud enjoyed a stranglehold on Nejd. However, his obsession remained to extend their dominance throughout the peninsula and turned his attention towards the region of the Hasa and the area of the Persian Gulf, still under Turkish rule.

Sufficiently cautious to keep formal recognition of sovereignty Ottoman and extremely skilful diplomatically, he/she knew how to maintain, thanks to his contacts with Britain, a political balance that made him practically independent and guaranteed sufficient stability to undertake a reorganization of the total administration of the country, something that in the long run would be a guarantee of their political and military dominance.

In 1912, Ibn Saud established the first colony Ikhwan in the oasis of to Art Awiyah. Entirely inhabited by Bedouins, the colony was, de facto, a military task force dedicated to the service of God and of Abdul Aziz, with a strong tribal and religious organization. Over the next decade, Ibn Saud established more than 100 similar colonies across the country, thus forming a special military force which, ultimately, would ensure his victory, leading to its end of the Wahhabi movement principles.

In 1913, Abdul Aziz launched an attack against the Ottoman forces stationed in to Hasa and succeeded in getting control of the region. In 1916 he/she signed a treaty with Great Britain in that it recognized as sole ruler of the Hasa and Nejd. This Treaty allowed tacitly Ibn Saud oust remaining leaders of the the Rashid, and 1918 his authority stretched to the doors of Hail, the capital of the to the Rashid.

During the following year, a force of the Ikwahn launched an attack against Sharif Hussein, emir of Mecca and King of Hijaz, but Ibn Saud contained his forces and the Hijaz (Makkah region) was not attacked. Instead, Abdul Aziz decided to consolidate its authority in the South of the country and took the mountainous region of Asir, and then Hail, the capital to the Rashid.

In September 1924 the British organized in Kuwait a regional conference attended by Ibn Saud, the kuwaiti emir, Sharif Hussein of Mecca and his sons, then Kings of the protectorates of Iraq and Transjordan, with the intention of solving the border problems and stabilize the region. The meeting ended in total disagreement and Great Britain announced that it would no longer pay the economic subsidies (about $5,000 a month) that helped to Ibn Saud and Hussein. On his return to Riyadh, Ibn Saud organized a military campaign against the Hejaz (Hussein of Mecca Caliph, thus claiming moral authority had proclaimed itself and influence policy, reinforced by its belonging to the family of the Prophet Mahoma, especially the Muslim world) and attacked the forces of Hussein. Without great resistance, occupied Mecca and laid siege to Jeddah and Medina, who surrender before the end of 1925.

On January 8, 1926, Ibn Saud was proclaimed King of the Hejaz in the Grand Mosque in Mecca, and in 1927 changed the title of sultan of Nejd by the King. In that same year was signed the Treaty of Jeddah, whereby Great Britain de facto recognized independence Saudi.

In the following years the country would live in a situation of civil war General after the rebellion of the leaders of the Ikwahn. However, the ulema of Najd and the town mostly supported the King and, finally, with the help of the British, the rebellion was stifled in 1930.

On September 23, 1932, the kingdoms of Nejd and Hejaz, until then administered as a separate, administrative units became one and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was formally created. That same year, Ibn Saud appointed his firstborn son Saud as Crown Prince and successor to the throne, and made that this appointment was supported by the main leaders of the family Al Saud with the intention of avoiding a fratricidal war to his death.

It followed a relatively quiet period in which Ibn Saud consolidated the territorial unit of the Peninsula and its economic development. Despite his diplomatic skills and contacts with abroad, the King remained always opposed to foreign intervention in matters of domestic policy. During those years the King established numerous administrative institutions, such as the public prosecutor in Hijaz, the Shoura Council, the Council of Deputies and several ministries, permanently changing the traditional political management of the Peninsula.

In 1933, Ibn Saud signed the first agreement with an American oil company, the Standard Oil Company of California, probably to try to balance British influence. The company gave no oil until 1938, and exploitation practically ceased during the second world war, which Ibn Saud left without much-needed income. However, oil production was restored after the war and, for 1950, Ibn Saud had entered a 200,000 dollars. In 1953, revenues had amounted to approximately 2,500.000, and effects in Saudi society is noted. The austere religious beliefs of the King suffered greatly, and the country was invaded by large number of adventurers.

Because of the domestic situation, in his last year of life, his physical and mental deterioration was evident. With numerous wives and 40 children, the King died in the city of Taif in 1953, after suffering a heart attack, after having succeeded in making Saudi Arabia one of the most influential States in the middle. His eldest son Saud succeeded him.


ALMANA, M. Arabia Unified: A Portrait of Ibn Saud. 1982.

KAMAL SALIBI. A History of Arabia.1980.

HOWARD, D. A. The Desert King. 1964.

Jaime Pruja-Artiaga