By : Taha Sakr
Sixty-seven years have passed since the death of King Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal Al Saud (Ibn Saud), the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but the memory about this outstanding leader will always stay in the hearts of his nation, Saudis.
Historians disagree on the date of the birth of King Abdulaziz Al Saud. However, many of them use the sources of the historian Almighty bin Saeed al-Naami, who wrote that King Abdulaziz Al Saud was born in 1876 in Riyadh. He was the son of Abdul Rahman bin Faisal, the last ruler of the Second Saudi State.
King Abdulaziz became the founder of the third Saudi state in 1902. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is the twenty-fifth son of the late King Abdulaziz. The future king was raised under the strict care of his father, and scholars were appointed, under the guidance of Judge Abdullah Al-Kharji, to teach him the basics of Islam and the history of Saudi Arabia.
At the age of ten, the late King Abdulaziz received extensive knowledge in jurisprudence and monotheism from Sheikh Abdullah bin Abdul Latif Al Sheikh and was engaged in equestrian sports. The personality of King Abdulaziz was greatly influenced by the identity of his father, Imam Abdul-Rahman al-Faisal since Imam Abdul-Rahman Al-Faisal was the father, teacher, brother and friend of his son, as well as the character of his mother, Princess Sarah Al-Sudeyri, who was one of the most intellectual women of those days.
The late King Abdulaziz was a favorite of his brothers and sisters Khaled, Faisal, Fahd, Muhammad, and Nura. But his relationship and devotion to Princess Nura were outstanding and unique. It is noteworthy that when he was asked to introduce himself, King Abdulaziz usually said: “I am the brother of Nura, I am the brother of Al Anwar (light).”
The late King Abdulaziz had a strong, charming, and charismatic personality that impressed everyone he met, particularly world leaders. He had a bright, smiling face, reflecting his kindness, humility, and laughter. He was known for communicating with his people, listening to them, and trying to help and support those in need. Because of this simple but wise leadership, the late King Abdulaziz was considered the head of the family, rather than a ruler and king.
The personality of King Abdulaziz impressed many thinkers and historians of the world. Thus, the Chinese historian Professor Yan Yanhong, reflecting on the personality of Ibn Saud, said: “King Abdulaziz was one of the geniuses who, with his huge and colossal efforts, served his people and had returned the homeland. He did not get tired and did not get bored, but he tremendously influenced the development and progress of the Kingdom.”
Dr. von Daisel of Austria described King Abdulaziz with the following, “Ibn Saud managed to create an empire that surpassed the territory of Germany, France, and Italy combined. Under his leadership and with the support of only a few people, he managed to restore Riyadh, the capital of his ancestors. There is no doubt that this person who does this has the right to be called a “genius.”
Historians considered the departure of the future Ibn Saud and his father Imam Abdul Rahman and some members of his family from Riyadh in 1891 the most difficult event in his life. Thus, Al Saud family took refuge with a Bedouin tribe in the southern desert of Saudi Arabia. They moved to Qatar, Bahrain, and eventually settled in Kuwait for over two decades.
In the spring of 1901, the future king started an invasion to regain control of Saudi Arabia. In the autumn of the same year, the battalion camped in the oasis of Yabrin. While observing Ramadan, he developed a strategy to attack Riyadh and recapture it from Al-Rashidi, the then ruling tribe. On the night of January 15, 1902, he led 40 people through the city walls and captured the city. The Saudi victory marked the emergence of the Third Saudi State, officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
With this victory, Ibn Saud proclaimed the beginning of a prosperous era in Najd. In 1903, after Friday prayers in the courtyard of the Grand Mosque in Riyadh, Ibn Saud pledged to serve the Saudis and lead them to political stability and a new stage of growth.
Late King Abdulaziz started reforms in the Kingdom by expanding the area of the Two Holy Mosques in Mecca and Medina. In addition, Ibn Saud ordered the opening of schools, the construction of hospitals, villages, fertilizing the soil, populating the desert, and building irrigation systems to support agriculture. King Abdulaziz was known for his great respect for scientists and education in general throughout his life. He usually invited professors and scholars to participate in the council and listened to their opinion since King Abdulaziz believed in the value of science and scholars and their impact on the nation’s development and success.
The second turning point in the modern history of the Kingdom after the victory of Ibn Saud was his decision on oil exploration. Thus, in May 1933, on behalf of the King, Minister of Finance Abdullah Al Sulayman signed the oil Concession Agreement with Standard Oil of California.
The first four years of these explorations were inefficient until geologists decided to dig near water well in an area called Ain Jet, where King Abdulaziz stopped in 1902 on the way from Kuwait to Riyadh. Here, they discovered the oil at depth 5 thousand feet underground. Desert land revived with oil discovery and turned the arid country into the economic powerhouse of the 21st century.
Last but not least, the government of King Abdulaziz, improved international relations and the country’s internal affairs. The purpose of establishing diplomatic relations with foreign allies was to develop and strengthen religious, civilizational, and cultural ties with world leaders to learn about the Saudi Kingdom.
King Abdulaziz died in 1953, after a heart attack at the palace of Prince Faisal in Taif.
The Egyptian writer and thinker Abbas Al-Akkad described the personality of King Abdulaziz by saying: “King Abdulaziz was stubborn with those who were strong, humble with those who were weak. He heard the opinions of others, and he would trust them. Because he perceived truth and law as an imam and ruler.”