Intellectuals around the Founder of Saudi Arabia
Men who contributed to Saudi’s identity
The epic unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the hands of King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud began with the restoration of Riyadh in 1902, leading to one of the most important national unions in modern history.
The elite in the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant, Egypt, and the Maghreb paid attention to the national, unitary project the king was establishing. Many Arab intellectuals yearned for its success as a symbol for all Arabs and Muslims. Those were challenging times, though, during which most Arab and Islamic countries were suffering under the weight of colonialism. Some Arab intellectuals contacted King Abdulaziz and joined him in his plans, making him the only Arab ruler surrounded by educated advisors from most Arab countries. Leaders magazine invite our readers to know more about some major figures.
Prince Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Al-Faisal Al Saud (1893 – 1977)
He is the brother of King Abdulaziz. Likely born in Kuwait, Prince Abdullah was a brilliant child. His father, Imam Abdulrahman Al-Faisal, hired Qur’an, Jurisprudence, and Hadith tutors to teach the boy, who had a scientific upbringing and became the most important advisor to the king since the age of 25 years old.
He is considered a reference in Saudi history, genealogies, and tribal news; the owner of the largest and most important private library at his time, containing anecdotes of manuscripts and publications. His council was a cultural salon for scholars, writers, poets, and thinkers from Saudi Arabia and outside.
Prince Abdullah is also one of the most critical Saudi figures because of his essential role in building the nation in the military, political, and cultural fields. He was the scholar of the House of Saud and their jurist, and one of the closest persons to King Abdulaziz, who used to consult and inform him of state matters. He was a prominent member of the Political Division of the Royal Court and Chief of Advisors. The proximity with his brother continued until the king’s death.
Prince Ahmed bin Abdullah Al-Thunayan Al Saud (1889 – 1923)
He was born, raised, and educated in Istanbul and came to Riyadh still young, in 1911, joining the service of his cousin King Abdulaziz. As a result of his education, culture, and knowledge, he gained the founder’s trust. He became one of his first advisors in foreign political affairs and correspondence, distinguishing himself thanks to his fluency in Arabic, Turkish, French, German, and English.
He participated in some military campaigns led by King Abdulaziz to unify the country and undertook some foreign political tasks, the first of which was a political delegation to Iraq in early 1912. After the annexation of Al-Ahsa, he led Saudi forces to remove the Ottoman garrison (numbering 1200 soldiers).
One of the most important achievements of Prince Ahmed Al-Thunayan was his success in negotiations with Britain to sign the Dareen Treaty (1915), and when King Abdulaziz sent his son Prince Faisal, who was 13 years old, to Europe on his behalf in 1919. The King of Britain, George V, received the Saudi delegation at Buckingham Palace, and Prince Ahmed Al-Thunayan was an important member.
Hashem bin Ahmed Al-Rifai (1885 – 1950)
A Kuwaiti writer of Iraqi origins, his family’s lineage traces back to Messrs Hussainiya (Al-Ashraf). Hashem bin Ahmed Al-Rifaistudied with King Abdulaziz in Kuwait when they were young, then he continued his studies in Baghdad and returned to his birth country.
About two decades after his return, Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Nafisi, King Abdulaziz’s deputy in Kuwait, lured him to work as a writer in the King Abdulaziz’s Court at the end of 1921. Hashem Al-Rifai was one of the few educated people who joined the service of King Abdulaziz during that period, who assigned him to missions in Najd and the Gulf that required a special understanding of financial, political, and legal matters. Al-Rifai served His Majesty until mid-1925.
Hafiz Wahba (1889 – 1967)
The Egyptian Wahba studied for a period in Al-Azhar School of Islamic Law without completing his studies. Then he worked in the press of the National Party in Cairo and travelled to India, where he was subjected to persecution by the British. He got acquainted with some merchants in the Arabian Peninsula and went to Kuwait in 1915.
There, his relationship with sheikhs strengthened, and Wahba met King Abdulaziz during his visit to the country. After, he met Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Qosaibi (King Abdulaziz’s agent in Bahrain) and suggested writing a letter to the king in 1924, politely presenting his desire to work at his service. King Abdulaziz was impressed with the quality of his handwriting, style, and formulation, so he invited him to come to Riyadh.
The Egyptian man gained the monarch’s trust, who appointed him as his Foreign Affairs Advisor. He quickly rose to several positions, including Minister Plenipotentiary to the United Kingdom in 1930. In London, he was one of the Islamic Cultural Center and the Central Mosque founders. Wahba died in Rome in 1967.
Youssef Yassin (1896 – 1962)
Youssef Yassin was born in Latakia, Syria, and studied at what is known as the School of Call and Guidance[n1] in Cairo, the School of Salah in Jerusalem, and the School of Law in Damascus. The idea of contacting King Abdulaziz was in his mind since when he heard the news about him and Najd.
When he moved to Damascus, his arrival coincided with the contact between the Levantine people and King Abdul-Aziz through Sheikh Fawzan in Damascus. When he first met King Abdulaziz, he wished to fulfil his desire to publish a newspaper called Al-Riyadh. Yussef Yassin arrived in Riyadh in 1924 and occupied the position of writer.
After the Hijaz annexation, he assumed several roles and tasks, including Editor-in-Chief of Umm Al-Qura newspaper. Later, he gained the trust of King Abdulaziz, becoming his private writer and political advisor. Afterwards, Yassin held several major media, diplomatic, political, and ministerial positions, including as the king’s personal secretary. After spending 21 years in the service of King Abdulaziz, he was appointed minister.
Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Manea (1903 – 1987)
He was born in Al-Zubayr, Iraq, to a Najdi family, his father working in the Arabian horse trade. Al-Manea was interested in the Arabian Peninsula affairs after seeing King Abdulaziz’s heroism. He abandoned his studies even though his father tried to persuade him, but he refused. During that period, he started writing some articles for the English newspaper Basra Times, whose British editor later became a friend.
One day, relatives visited him with two of King Abdulaziz’s men (Abdullah Al-Damluji and Hafez Wahba). He asked about the possibility of obtaining a job at King Abdulaziz’s office.
After some time, he was invited to work as a translator in the royal court, where he stayed for nine years, accompanying the founder on his travels.
Ibrahim bin Abdullah bin Muammar (1878 – 1958)
He was born in Kuwait and travelled to India to study English, Urdu, and Farsi and to practice trade. During his settlement in Egypt, he covered the news on the Saudi rule in the Hijaz.
After the Hijaz annexation, he wrote a letter to King Abdulaziz congratulating him on the country’s unification and presenting him with an Arabic book and other publications. He joined the king’s political advisors team and was in charge of Foreign Political Intelligence, carrying out political tasks in Europe and some Arab countries.
The most important part of his career began when he was appointed Head of the Royal Court and accompanied Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz on his second trip to Europe.
Fouad Hamza (1899 – 1951)
A Lebanese writer and researcher, Fouad Hamzawas born in Ubayya, Alia district in Mount Lebanon, where he received his education until the secondary level. Then, he moved to Beirut to study at the Teachers House and obtained his diploma with distinction.
By that time, his political activities were for the Arab cause and resistance to the French. When the latter pressured him, he left for Cairo and wrote for the Al-Ahram newspaper, shortly receiving a telegram to work for the Saudi government. The reason behind the invitation was the well-known Syrian leader Shukri Al-Quwatli, who suggested Hamza to King Abdulaziz when he was searching for a young man fluent in English and Arabic.
Hamza left Egypt and arrived in Jeddah on 25 December 1926 to work as an assistant to the Director of Foreign Affairs (Abdullah Al-Damluji), who resigned in 1928 and left the vacancy to the Lebanese man. He held the position until being transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He served Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz for nine years, followed by the position of Minister Plenipotentiary to France. He wrote some books, including The Heart of Arabia (1933), The Countries of Saudi Arabia (1937), and In the Land of Asir (1951).
Rushdie Malhas (1899 – 1959)
Rushdie Malhaswas born in Nablus, Palestine, studying there and in Istanbul. He was the Arab Covenant Association secretary and worked as a journalist in Damascus and the newspaper Al-Istiqlal Al-Arabi. He joined the service of King Abdulaziz following Yusef Yassin’s invitation to edit the newspaper Umm Al-Qura.
After five years, he became Minister Plenipotentiary and continued as Head of the Political Division until his death.
Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Faraj (1898 – 1954)
He was born in Kuwait to a father of Saudi origin from the Al Dawasir tribe, and his mother is Sheikha Al-Thunayan, from the Al-Khalifat tribe. He received his early education in Al-Kuttaib, and studied at Al-Mubarakiya School in Kuwait, starting his working life as a teacher there.
He was encouraged by Hashem Al-Rifai to work in the Saudi government. King Abdulaziz assigned him as the supervisor of Al-Ahsa and Qatif municipalities. That was the golden period in his life; he devoted himself to thought, creativity, and meeting with writers and intellectuals.
Al-Faraj intellectual heritage included printed books, articles, and some manuscripts that he could not complete nor print in life.
[n1]Are you sure about this? I did not find any info about such school