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The House of Saud: glorious profile of a nation

The House of Saud: glorious profile of a nation

In the middle of the fifteenth century AD, the great-grandfather of the Al Saud family, Mani’ bin Rabi’a al-Muraydi, migrated from the vicinity of Qatif to Najd, where he settled and established the city of Diriyah. This is where the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia begins. The Emirate of Diriyah The beginning of Saudi Arabia came with the establishment of the first Saudi state, the Emirate of Diriyah, at the hands of Imam Muhammad bin Saud in the year AH 1157 (AD 1744), ending in AH 1233 (AD 1818). The territory was originally in a state of disintegration and insecurity, creating chaos and political and social instability. In addition, heresies and superstitions were being spread. This paved the way for an alliance between the Prince of Diriyah, Muhammad bin Saud, and Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. Muhammad bin Saud assumed the Emirate of Diriyah in AH 1139 AH (AD 1727), after the killing of its Emir, Zaid bin Markhan bin Watban, and established an emirate that later led to the first Saudi state. Some believe that Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab worked to correct the faith, implement Islamic law, and achieve monotheism, while others believe that the weakness of the tribal bond in Najd at the time and the emergence of small independent city kingdoms motivated Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s to spread his call to unite these regions and get them out of a state of political and social decline. This call achieved success in Najd, and it was embraced by the Prince of Diriyah, spreading to some parts of the Hijaz, Yemen, Asir, and the outskirts of Iraq and the Levant. Muhammad bin Saud began by inviting the nearby Bedouin tribes and was able, through continuous raids, to subdue a number of them. Muhammad bin Saud died one year later, and his son Abdul Aziz took over the leadership of the army. He was able to annex Riyadh after twenty-seven years of fighting, subjugated Al-Ahsa and Al-Buraimi to his state, and reached Karbala. He fought several battles with the Sharif of Mecca, who was forced to conclude a peace treaty with Ibn Saud in AH 1213 (AD 1798) after his defeat. Later, his son Saud the Great managed to subjugate Medina, which demolished a large number of shrines, following the teachings of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who died in AH 1206 (AD 1792). The Ottoman Empire felt the danger of the Saudi movement and realized that its success would lead to the separation of the Hijaz and its exit from its hands, and thus the exit of the Two Holy Mosques from its authority, which would lose it the leadership it enjoyed in the Islamic world through its supervision of the Two Holy Mosques. All these factors constituted an incentive for the Ottoman state to stand up to the Saudi first state and confront it to limit its spread. At first, it tried through the rulers of the Ottoman Empire in Baghdad and Damascus, but it failed, and its choice fell on Muhammad Ali Pasha. This led to an Ottoman military campaign led by his son Ahmed Tusun, who entered Yanbu and Badr, but was defeated in the battle of Wadi Al-Safra. Diseases had spread among the ranks of the Ottoman army, and the soldiers fell ill as a result of severe heat and lack of supplies and water, which made Tusun’s position more critical. After these losses, he decided that a defense plan should be needed, and he sent it to his father asking for help. Muhammad Ali Pasha The governor of the Ottoman Empire in Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha, decided to go by himself to the Hijaz to continue the fight, eliminate the First Saudi State, and extend the influence of the Ottoman Empire in the Arabian Peninsula. He arrived in Jeddah, then he left for Mecca and attacked the strongholds of the First Saudi State, but he failed to expand the area of his spread. He evacuated Al-Qunfudah after he had entered it, and his son Tusun was defeated in Turbah again. It was natural, after these repeated defeats and the continuous skirmishes of the House of Saud for the units of the Ottoman army, that Muhammad Ali Pasha asked for supplies from the Ottoman Empire. Abdullah bin Saud Al Kabeer assumed leadership of the First Saudi State in a critical situation. Muhammad Ali Pasha, having defeated a Saudi army, took control of the soil and entered the port of Qunfudah, while Tusun took control of the northern part of Najd. Abdullah bin Saud formed small units in the villages of Najd in the hope of overcoming the numerical gap between him and Ibrahim Pasha’s forces, but Ibrahim Pasha understood that and destroyed all the Najd villages that resisted his forces to the ground. After eliminating this movement, he resumed his war against the First Saudi State, so he sent another military campaign to the peninsula led by his son Ibrahim Pasha on Shawwal 12, AH 1231 (September 5, 1816). Ibrahim Pasha, after fierce clashes with the First Saudi State, managed to reach Diriyah and besieged it, so Abdullah bin Saud was forced into negotiations, and the two parties agreed to hand Diriyah to the Ottoman army, on the condition that the city would not be destroyed. Nevertheless, Ibrahim Pasha arrived at Diriyah in AH 1232 (AD 1819), destroying its walls and also razing it to the ground. Thus, the war waged by the Ottoman Empire in the Arabian Peninsula ended, and Ibrahim Pasha returned to Egypt. Ibrahim Pasha worked on capturing Abdullah bin Saud and a large number of his family and supporters after a six-month siege, after which he was executed in a public square in Astana, thus ending the first Saudi state. The Second Saudi State The Second Saudi State was established by Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad Al Saud after the fall of the first Saudi state in the year AH 1233 (AD 1818). Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad Al Saud was able, during the years of his rule, to take Riyadh as the capital instead of Diriyah. Riyadh expanded in a limited way, unlike its predecessor, and was harmed by conflict and internal wars, where the differences caused the sons of Imam Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah Al Saud to weaken the state and causing its fall at the hands of the Emir Muhammad bin Abdullah Al Rashid of Ha’il in AH 1309 (AD 1891). After the departure of the Ottoman forces, Turki returned to Iraq, and Amir al-Washm joined him, then Suwaid Sahib Jalajil and those with him. Turki declared war and expelled the rest of the Turks from Riyadh, but Suwaid withdrew. The Turks surrounded Turki in Iraq, but they were forced to withdraw. Turki attacked Dhurma and captured it. Then he wrote to the people of Sudair, and they pledged allegiance to him, then the people of Jalajil, Zulfi, Munikh, and Ghat, and then the people of Huraymila. After that, Turki decided to expel the only remaining Turkish garrison in Riyadh. After that, Turki chose Riyadh as his capital and rebuilt its walls and mosque. After the Battle of Sibiya, Turki headed with his armies to Al-Ahsa and its people pledged allegiance to him and stayed there for forty days. The Third Saudi State (1902) The House of Saud lost its authority in Najd and other regions of the Arabian Peninsula following the fall of the Second Saudi state, but the foundations for the establishment of the third Saudi state remained. Loyalty in Najd continued to increase gradually to the House of Saud while they were in exile, especially whenever they felt the mismanagement of the Rashid family who had ended the Second Saudi State, and their severity in dealing with Najdi society. A large number of the people of Najd believed that the Saud family remained a symbol of national independence and must be supported and assisted, especially when they realized their subordination to the Rashid family to the Ottoman state and their loyalty to it. The House of Saud benefited greatly from their residence in Kuwait at the time, from which they began their political and non-political movements to regain their lost rule. The late founder, King Abdul Aziz Al Saud Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal Al Saud and those with him headed towards Riyadh to take the city back, and he did so after defeating the Al Rashid forces in the Masmak Palace. When Abdul Aziz’s men continued to enter the palace, the rest of the guards were forced to surrender. It was said in Riyadh that the judgment belongs to God, and then to Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal Al Saud. Thus, Abd al-Aziz took his first step to restore the rule of his fathers and forefathers, and then unify most of the parts of the Arabian Peninsula. On that date, Shawwal 5, AH 1319 (January 15, 1902), the Third Saudi State began. Abd al-Aziz Al Saud proceeded to gradually unite the regions of Najd. Then he began to unify the areas south of Riyadh after his victory over Ibn Rashid in the town of Al-Dulam near Al-Kharj, and all the territories of the south, Al-Kharj, Al-Hareq, Al-Houta, and Al-Aflaj were won by him together with Wadi Al-Dawasir. Abdul Aziz Al Saud, ruler of Najd In the summer of AH 1339 (AD 1921), a conference was held in Riyadh, attended by scholars and presidents, from the people of Najd, and they decided that the ruler of Najd, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal Al Saud, and his successors, take the title of Sultan. Prince Abdul Aziz wrote a letter to the British High Commissioner informing him of this. On Dhul Hijjah 27, AH 1339 (September 2, 1921), the British government recognized Ibn Saud, and his descendants, with the title Sultan of Najd. The Ikhwan The Ikhwan, also Akhwan, was the first Saudi army made up of traditionally nomadic tribesmen, who formed a significant military force for Ibn Saud and played an important role in establishing him as ruler of most of the Arabian Peninsula in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This army was formed in the year AH 1347 (AD 1928) by the warriors who fought with King Abdulaziz, called ‘the people of jihad’. The name of the Mujahideen has remained until the present time, and they functioned as the army and public security. This force contributed to the unification of the country under the leadership of its leader, King Abdulaziz. The first king of the modern Saudi state King Abdulaziz Al Saud was the first king of the Saudi state in its modern form, after the unification of its regions and territories under the name of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Jumada AlAwwal 21, AH 1351 (September 23, 1932). The eldest, Saud bin Abdul-Aziz, was crowned crown prince after approval and took the pledge of allegiance to him. Abdul Aziz continued to rule until he died in Taif in the year AH 1373 (AD 1953). After the death of King Abdulaziz, his son Saud ascended to the throne in the year AH 1373 (AD 1953). During his reign, many internal reforms and urban projects took place, the most important of which was the establishment of the Council of Ministers and the assignment of its presidency to Faisal bin Abdulaziz. After King Faisal took over power in 1964, he worked on several matters, most notably, working to including King Abdul Aziz National University in the state and transforming the colleges and scientific institutes into a university that later became the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University. He also worked to transform the College of Petroleum into the University of Petroleum and Minerals. In AH 1395 (AD 1975), King Khalid assumed power. During his reign, the Kingdom witnessed a remarkable development in construction and development. He presided over many local and regional conferences in various political, economic, and social fields. He presided over several Islamic conferences. In AH 1402 (AD 1982), King Fahd assumed power and took the title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and during his reign, many achievements emerged on the Islamic level. The most important was the project of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for the architecture of the Two Holy Mosques, and their expansion to accommodate in the Grand Mosque more than 1½ million worshippers, and in the Civil Sanctuary more than 1,200,000, in addition to developing the surrounding areas. He held positions on Arab and Islamic issues, the most important of which is the Palestinian issue, in terms of political, material, and moral support. During his reign, the country’s civil society rose, with the establishment of many facilities. Education developed during his reign, the urban movement flourished, and the industrial renaissance grew. On 26 Jumada II AH 1426 (August 1, 2005), King Abdullah took over and retained the title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. During the reign of King Abdullah, various sectors developed, most notably the expansion of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, the increase in the number of universities and colleges, and the establishment of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. HRH King Salman, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ascended to King of Saudi Arabia on Rabi’ Al-Akhir 3, AH 1436 (January 23, 2015). Achievements continue within the framework of a comprehensive renaissance led by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and implemented by his Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who instilled the spirit of youth in the state with his ideas, initiatives and policies, and led the Kingdom today to what has become known as the “New Saudi Arabia”, or Vision 2030, a roadmap for its revival. Last October, Riyadh hosted the Green Middle East Initiative summit. The Green Middle East Initiative includes the largest reforestation program in the world, which includes planting 50 billion trees in the Middle East and restoring an area equivalent to 200 million hectares of degraded land. The strategy aims to reduce carbon emissions in the city by 50 percent, in addition to pumping SAR 346 billion (US$92 billion) into the city’s sustainability initiatives and projects, and stimulating the private sector with investment opportunities.

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