Ibn Saud

(c. 1880—1953)

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(c. 1880–1953)

The first king of Saudi Arabia (1932–53), who was largely responsible for his country's fabulous wealth as an oil producer.

Born in exile because his father was excluded by Ibn Saud's uncle from rule of his country, he fought for over twenty years to regain his possessions – from the conquest of the sultanate of Najd in 1902 to that of Hejaz in 1924. The reconquest of the state that in 1932 became Saudi Arabia was facilitated by the Arabian tribesmen called al-Ikhwan (the Brethren), who later formed the backbone of the National Guard of Saudi Arabia. In 1933 Ibn Saud negotiated an agreement with the Standard Oil Company of California, selling them prospecting rights for oil. The discovery of oil in 1936 brought immense wealth to the country and enabled Ibn Saud to initiate a modernization programme. Unenthusiastic about the Arab League, he eventually overcame his distrust of its Hashimite leadership enough to give it grudging support. Ibn Saud had about 150 wives and many children.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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