The Saudi Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, since taking over power in Saudi Arabia on January 23, 2015, managed to lead the kingdom to what has become described as a “New Saudi.”
This description came thanks to historical reforms undertaken by the Saudi King during 5 years, and an ambitious development vision that drew the features of a bright future for the Kingdom, through a road map leading to a comprehensive renaissance in various fields until 2030.
As a result of reforms, achievements and success in facing various challenges, the US magazine “Forbes” chose King Salman bin Abdulaziz as one of the first most influential figures in the world for the year 2015, in the first year of his assumption of power.
He also crowned the International King Faisal Prize for Service to Islam for the year 2017, for his “constant endeavor to unite Arabs and Muslims”, as part of many awards and certificates that were awarded to him in appreciation of his efforts in supporting stability, spreading peace and security in the region and the world.
Five years of kingdom rule alongside a march of building and development that has lasted about 65 years since King Salman bin Abdulaziz, who is 19 years old in 1954, took the position of acting governor of Riyadh until today, and the tender is still going on.
His birth and upbringing
King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was born on December 31, 1935 in Riyadh. He is the twenty-fifth son of the founding king Abdulaziz Al Saud. He grew up with his brothers in the Royal Palace in Riyadh, where he accompanied his father in official meetings with the kings and rulers of the world.
He received his early education in the Princes’ School in Riyadh, where he studied religious and modern sciences, and completed the entire Qur’an, at the age of ten at the hands of the imam and preacher of the Grand Mosque, Sheikh Abdullah Khayyat.
The governance of Riyadh … Half a century of development
King Salman bin Abdulaziz entered political life at the age of 19 with his appointment, on March 16, 1954, as a prince ‘governor’ of Riyadh on behalf of his brother Prince Nayef.
The following year, he was officially appointed Prince of Riyadh, one of the largest regions of Saudi Arabia in area with regard to population, and the capital of the state, during the period from April 18, 1955 until his resignation on December 25, 1960, but on February 4, 1963 he was reappointed as Prince of Riyadh.
He continued as Prince of Riyadh for more than 5 decades, during which he supervised the process of transforming the region from a medium-sized town inhabited by about 200,000 people to one of the fastest growing capitals in the Arab world today.
This growth period was not without the difficult challenges that accompany the development process, but it proved a high ability to initiate and achieve achievements, and Riyadh has become today one of the richest cities in the region and a regional center for travel and trade.
During his tenure as the governor of Riyadh, the city witnessed the completion of many major infrastructure projects, such as highways and modern roads, schools, hospitals, and universities, as well as museums, sports fields, and entertainment cities, among others.
The Saudi capital also includes a number of prominent architectural monuments, which extend over an urban area that makes it one of the largest cities in the world, and over the course of more than half a century spent as the Prince of Riyadh, during which he moved the capital from a small city to one of the world’s fastest growing, developed and modern cities.
The mandate of the Covenant
On November 5, 2011, a decision was issued by the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to appoint Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Minister of Defense at that time as Crown Prince.
On June 18, 2012, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz issued an order for his selection as Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister, while retaining the post of Minister of Defense.
After the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, on January 23, 2015, he received allegiance as king, making King Salman bin Abdulaziz the seventh king of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Since this step, the Kingdom has witnessed more giant development achievements along its vast areas in various economic, educational, health and social sectors.
After assuming power, King Salman reshaped the country at various levels. He issued a royal order on January 29, 2015 that included the abolition of 12 committees and councils, most notably the National Security Council and the Supreme Economic Council.
King Salman replaced them with two councils that are linked organizationally to the Council of Ministers, which are the “Political and Security Affairs Council” and the “Economic and Development Affairs Council,” chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Both councils formulate the Kingdom’s policies at the political and economic levels
Economically, to meet the challenge of low oil prices, Saudi Arabia announced on April 25, 2016 an economic vision for 2030, aimed at reducing its dependence on oil, the main source of income.
Saudi Arabia is proceeding with a steady and confident step to reduce its dependence on oil and diversify income sources, within the framework of Vision 2030.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz set a general framework in his speech before the Shura Council, on December 14, 2016, for his country’s foreign policy, stressing that his country’s vision is that “The political solution to international crises is the best way to achieve people’s aspirations for peace”,.
Within the framework of extensive reforms, during the first year of the reign of King Salman, the first municipal elections were held in which women participated as voters and candidates in the history of the Kingdom on December 12, 2015, and culminated in the victory of 21 women with seats in the municipal council elections in its third session.
The reforms continued, as Saudi women began driving cars since June 24, 2018, in implementation of a historical order issued by the Saudi monarch on September 26, 2017, that requires women to obtain a driver’s license” in accordance with the legal controls.”
On February 14, 2018, women were allowed to start their business and benefit from government services without the need for guardian approval.
In the fifth year of the rule of King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Saudi women obtained a package of benefits, according to amendments to the regulations for travel documents, civil status, and work that took place on August 2, 2019.
These amendments granted women more rights on more than one level, and allowed them to obtain passports and leave the country without the consent of the guardian.
Under the new amendments, women have the same rights guaranteed by law to men, as the system guaranteed that they obtained a passport on their own, just as men do, and they are entitled to travel after reaching 21 years, without the consent of the guardian.
King Salman on Twitter
King Salman bin Abdulaziz has an official documented account on “Twitter”, which he is keen to tweet through it from time to time, the account has 7.8 million followers, and enjoys great interaction from the tweeters
The Saudi monarch is also known for his extensive charitable efforts as he established the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Action, and holds the presidency of the King Salman Center for Disability Research, the honorary presidency of the Prince Fahd bin Salman Charitable Society, for the care of patients with kidney failure, and the honorary presidency of the Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation, and many other.
Since 1956, King Salman bin Abdulaziz has assumed the chairmanship of several humanitarian and service committees that have assumed responsibilities for support and relief work in many affected areas around the world, whether it is affected by wars or natural disasters.
As the Saudi monarch became internally dubbed “King of Firmness”, against the backdrop of his firm decisions internally and externally, the US magazine “Forbes” chose him among the first most influential figures in the world for the year 2015.
King Salman topped the list of the strongest personalities in the Arab world and the 14 in the world, in the list published by the magazine in November 2016, and included presidents, kings, businessmen and famous economic and political figures.
He also won the “King Faisal” International Prize for Service to Islam for the year 2017, the selection committee of the award said: “it decided to give it to King Salman bin Abdulaziz for several justifications, including” his care for the service of the Two Holy Mosques and their people, the Arab and Islamic nations, including the establishment of the Islamic Military Alliance to fight terrorism,”
The Kingdom is entering the sixth year of the rule of King Salman bin Abdulaziz, while continuing to build strategic partnerships and enhance bilateral cooperation with countries of the world on the basis of mutual respect and common interests.