Biography of King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud

Lundi 01 Août 2005

Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, Custodian of the two holy mosques was born in Riyadh, probably in 1923; died on August 1, 2005 was until his death the king and prime minister of Saudi Arabia and leader of the House of Saud. In 1995 Fahd suffered a major stroke, possibly as a complication of obesity, and had been unable to perform his official duties. His half-brother, Crown Prince Abdullah, served as de facto regent of the kingdom.

On 27 May 2005, the Saudi government announced King Fahd had been hospitalized, with other sources claiming he was in serious condition. The Washington Times even reported that he was dead. Saudi official sources told Reuters that the monarch, 82, had been running a fever and "had water in his lungs" which required hospitalisation. Medical sources said the king had a lung infection and that a CAT scan would be performed while he stayed in hospital for one or two days. However he remained in hospital and died on August 1.

Fahd was a son of King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud, the first monarch and founder of modern Saudi Arabia. At the time of his birth, Fahd's father was completing the consolidation of the House of Saud's power on the Arabian Peninsula and the founding of Saudi Arabia.

At the age of nine in 1932, Fahd watched as his father officially founded the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by signing the Treaty of Jedda.

Fahd's education took place at the Princes' School in Riyadh, a school established by Ibn Saud specifically for the education of members of the House of Saud. While studying at the Princes' School Fahd studied under tutors including Sheikh Abdul-Ghani Khayat. Following his education at the Princes' School, Fahd moved on to the Religious Knowledge Institute in Mecca, where he studied.

In 1945 Fahd travelled on his first state visit to New York, New York to attend the opening session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. On this trip Fahd served under his brother, King Faisal who was at the time Saudi Arabia's foreign minister.

In 1953, at the age of 30, Fahd was appointed Education Minister by his father. Also in 1953, Fahd led his first official state visit, attending the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on behalf of the House of Saud.

Later Fahd would lead the Saudi delegation to the League of Arab States in 1959, signifying his growing relevance and importance in the House of Saud — and his being groomed for more significant power.

Finally, in 1962, Fahd was given a post of prodigious responsibility: that of Interior Minister. Five years later Fahd would be appointed Second Deputy Prime Minister, a significant post in the House of Saud.

On March 25, 1975, King Faisal was assassinated by his nephew and King Khalid assumed power. Fahd, as next in the line of succession, become Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister. Especially in the later years of King Khalid's reign, Fahd was viewed as the de facto prime minister.

• When King Khalid passed away on June 13, 1982 Fahd succeeded to the throne.

• After his stroke King Fahd was mostly inactive, though he still attended meetings and received selected visitors. In November 2003 he pledged to "strike with an iron fist" at terrorists after deadly bombings. However, it is Crown Prince Abdullah who takes official trips; when King Fahd travels it is for vacations, and he is sometimes absent from Saudi Arabia for months at a time. He was appointed prime minister in 1986. 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.

• King Fahd was the oldest of the "Sudairi Seven", the seven sons of King Abdul Aziz "ibn Saud" by -the most favoured among Abdel Aziz’s many wives- Hussah bint Ahmad Al Sudairi who have been close to one another all their lives. Among his full brothers, Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz (born 1927) has been Minister of Defense since 1962 and Second Deputy Prime Minister since 1982, and is considered likely to be the next Crown Prince. Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, who succeeded King Fahd as Interior Minister in 1975, and Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the Governor of Riyadh, are also considered potential future Kings among the Seven. They function as a close-knit group and try to meet at least once a week.

• King Fahd controlled the largest oil reserves in the world with an estimated personal fortune of £32 billion, seven palaces in Saudi Arabia, a chateau on the French Riviera, a private Boeing 747 and two liner-sized yachts. His residence in Marbella, on the Spanish Riviera, is a faithful replica of the U.S. White House.

• King Fahd’s father King Abdulaziz, is understood to have had around 145 wives during his lifetime and around 37 children.

• King Fahd was married several times, but the exact number is only known to very few people.

• Fahd underwent eye surgery to remove a cataract in 2003 in Riyadh. The year before that he had a similar operation on his other eye at a Geneva hospital.

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