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Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud Founder of Saudi Arabia

Updated on July 19, 2013

Ibn Sa'ud Rise to Power

Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud born around 1876 would becomes the founding king of modern day Saudi Arabia through a military campaign to capture his families ancestral homeland of Riyadh. Saud was unique individual and his cunning ability to balance the religious community that gave him power domestically and the security and money that he received from U.S. business interests allowed him to establish a wealthy and independent Arab nation.

King Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia
King Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia | Source

The Life of King Abdulaziz

Ibn Saud Gains Control of Arabian Peninsula

Between 1902 and 1932 Abdul Aziz waded through battle after battle and then with an amazing grasp of international politics secured his position on the world scene. Locally Saud took on several foes, he wrestled control of Riyadh away from the Rashidi family another prominent family in the Nejd. He would go on to amass the religious warriors from the Ikhwan movement and take away control of the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina and other local areas that were controlled by the British approved Hashemite's. However, do to several circumstances and Saud's international relations experience he was successful in his removal of the Hashemites and gained privilege from the British.This 30 years saw an incredible transformation in King Saud from a religious leader that was able to galvanize the local religious fighters whom were called the Ikhwan into a powerful force against his domestic enemies into a subservient force that followed along with his ambitions for wealth and security that could only be provided at the time by a western power. Saud was wise enough and had the support of smart advisers that he avoided a continued relationship with the British government and oil companies when the opportunity presented itself to work with a Standard Oil, a U.S. oil company which later led to a long term alliance with the United States.

Ibn Saud's 53 Cadillac

Customized 53 Cadillac for King Saud.
Customized 53 Cadillac for King Saud. | Source

The Desert Sands

The desert landscape in Saudi Arabia
The desert landscape in Saudi Arabia | Source

Roosevelt and Saud Meeting

King Saud and President Roosevelt Meeting

A highlight of Saud's interaction with U.S. government officials would be on February 14, 1945 meeting with President Roosevelt aboard the USS Quincy.

The meeting between Roosevelt and Sa’ud would be conducted on board the U.S.S. Quincy on the Great Bitter Lake. Sa’ud and his party embarked from the port of Jedda aboard the U.S.S. Murphy, which took him by seas to meet the President in the Suez Canal aboard the Quincy. At first Sa’ud insisted that he should be allowed to bring 100 sheep on the ship in order to have enough food to feed his people and the men on board. Commodore Keating informed Sa’ud that it was not necessary since the ship had refrigeration to keep food good for sixty days. Unconvinced Sa’ud convinced Keating to make room for a small number of sheep and food from Arabia enough to hold dinner in the proper Arab traditions. On the journey to meet with Roosevelt, Sa’ud’s entourage got along with the Americans. They were especially eager to learn about their work and the machinery they used. The Arabs were confused at first by the African American sailors aboard and they initially thought that they must be Arabs and so tried to talk to them in Arabic. The men did not respond so they believed that they must just be slaves. It took quite some convincing for the Arabs to realize that the African Americans were sailors just like the whites on board. Sa’ud always being concerned with gaining favor, brought gifts for every single sailor aboard the Murphy, the ship that transported him to Roosevelt and returned him to Arabia. Every regular seaman received forty dollars, each petty officer sixty dollars and to each officer he gave a full Arabian costume and a watch. Commodore Keating received two gold daggers.

On February 14, 1945, the Quincy and the Murphy moved alongside each other and Sa’ud and Roosevelt would finally meet and begin a friendship that would protect the security for both nations, in the region for years to come. The actual meetings between the two men were brief because Roosevelt was in no shape to be conducting long sessions and had actually been advised for health reasons not to make the trip to Sa’ud, but he insisted on it. Before Sa’ud left the Quincy he insisted on serving the President at least one cup of Arabian coffee since time would not allow for a full meal. Roosevelt would tell William Eddy, his Arabic translator after Sa’ud had gone that the time sipping coffee with Sa’ud was quite splendid and that Sa’ud had truly impressed him. Sa’ud had simply showed Roosevelt the usual Arab hospitality towards friends, but it had a tremendous impact on Roosevelt’s perception of the Arab leader.

Sa’ud and Roosevelt were very different, yet great leaders as there were quickly established similarities amongst themselves. They both enjoyed the coffee and discussing their physical handicaps. Sa’ud like Roosevelt, had trouble walking, yet Roosevelt’s condition was much worse than Sa’ud’s and the President used a wheelchair to move himself around. Sa’ud was very impressed with a chair that could move and although Roosevelt attempted to convince Sa’ud that he was the better man because he could still walk albeit with a cane, Sa’ud kept on insisting that Roosevelt was better off because he didn’t have to walk, Sa’ud considered Roosevelt’s solution a luxury that was considerably desirable. Roosevelt responded appropriately, “If you think so highly of this chair, I will give you the twin of this chair as I have two on board.” Sa’ud apparently kept the chair in a palace in Riyadh and on occasions would bring out the wheel chair with the White House tags still on it and proclaim, “This chair is my most precious possession. It is the gift of my great and good friend, President Roosevelt, on whom Allah has had mercy.” Impressed by each others hospitality, the two men trusted one another and Sa’ud would hope this trust would affect the way the U.S. conducted it policy in the Middle East.


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    • saudia profile image

      saudia 5 years ago

      There is no doubt that Abdul-Aziz bin Saud, a man with a charismatic and powerful but otherwise after God Almighty what Saudi Arabia was only a taste of the sharks "states of the European colonization"

    • charmike4 profile image

      Michael Kromwyk 6 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Thanks for profiling this important historical figure czczcz. I believe that Saud was ruthless in his rise to power and in the development of the Saudi nation and this help to consolidate his rise along with support from other nations.