Abd al-Aziz Al-Sa'ud

(b. c. 1880)

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(b. Riyadh, c. 1880; d. Taif, 9 Nov. 1953)

Arabian; ruler of Nejd 1902–21, Sultan of Nejd 1921–32, King of Hijaz 1926–32, King of Saudi Arabia 1932–53 As a boy, Abd al-Aziz was exiled to Kuwait after the deposition of the ruling Al-Saud dynasty of central Arabia (Nejd) in 1891. In 1902 he led a small, but daring, raiding party which recaptured Riyadh and restored the dynasty. By 1914, Ibn Sa'ud exercised full control over all the Nejd and the Hasa coastal area near Bahrain, having defeated the rival Al-Rashid dynasty and their Turkish allies in battle. His final conquests in northern and central Arabia were made in 1921, again at the expense of the House of Al-Rashid. By then a new and bitter rivalry with the ruling Hashemite dynasty of the western region of Arabia (Hijaz) had arisen. When the king, Sharif Hussein of Mecca, claimed the vacant Caliphate in 1924, Ibn Sa'ud led his incensed and militant Ikhwan warriors to conquer Hijaz and depose him. After Ibn Sa'ud assumed the throne of Hijaz in January 1926, he ruled it separately from the Nejd for the next seven years. Britain recognized his sovereignty in the Treaty of Jeddah of 1927. A rebellion by the Ikhwan from 1928 to 1930, and a smaller revolt in 1932 instigated by Emir Abdullah, the Hashemite ruler of Transjordan, proved the only significant threats to his throne during the period before he merged the kingdom of Hijaz with the sultanate of Nejd to form the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in September 1932. Thereafter, the priorities of King Abd al-Aziz were to unify fully the new kingdom, secure its economic development, and rescue it from acute financial difficulties—the latter being finally achieved when substantial revenues from crude petroleum production accrued after 1945.

Subjects: Politics.

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