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Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
King of Saudi Arabia
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques

5.-King-Abdullah-Bin-Abdulaziz-Al-Saud-e1340178464285
King of Saudi Arabia
Reign 1 August 2005 – 23 January 2015
Bay'ah 2 August 2005
Predecessor Fahd
Successor Salman
Regency 2 January 1996 – 1 August 2005
Spouse Alanoud Al Fayez (1972–2003)
Jawahir bint Ali Hussein
Aida Fustuq (Divorced)
Munira Al Otaishan
Munira bint Abdullah Al Al Shaykh
Tathi bint Mishan al Faisal al Jarba
Hussa bint Trad bin Sattam ash-Sha'lan
(23 or more other wives)
Issue
Detail
Prince Khaled
Prince Mutaib
Prince Mishaal
Prince Abdulaziz
Prince Turki
Prince Badr
Princess Nora
Princess Aliya
Princess Adila
Princess Maryam
Princess Sahab
Princess Sahar
Princess Maha
Princess Hala
Princess Jawahir
Princess Anoud
Prince Saud
Prince Bandar
Full name
Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal bin Turki
House House of Saud
Father Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia
Mother Fahda Al Shuraim
Date of birth (1924-08-01)1 August 1924
Place of birth Riyadh, Nejd
(now Saudi Arabia)
Date of death 23 January 2015(2015-01-23) (aged 90)
Place of death Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Date of burial 23 January 2015
Place of burial Al Oud cemetery, Riyadh
Religion Sunni Islam

Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Arabic: عبدالله بن عبدالعزيز آل سعود‎, ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Āl Sa‘ūd, Najdi Arabic pronunciation: [ʢæbˈdɑɫ.ɫɐ ben ˈʢæbdæl ʢæˈziːz ʔæːl sæˈʢuːd]; 1 August 1924 – 23 January 2015) was the King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques from 2005 to 2015. He ascended to the throne on 1 August 2005 upon the death of his half-brother, King Fahd.

Abdullah, like Fahd, was one of the many sons of Ibn Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia. Abdullah held important political posts throughout most of his adult life. In 1961 he became mayor of Mecca, his first public office. And, in 1962, he was appointed commander of the Saudi Arabian National Guard, a post he was still holding when he became king. He also served as deputy defense minister and was named crown prince when Fahd took the throne in 1982. After King Fahd suffered a serious stroke in 1995, Abdullah became the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia until ascending the throne a decade later.

During his reign he maintained close relations with United States and Britain and bought billions of dollars worth of defense equipment from both states. He also gave women the right to vote and to compete in the Olympics. Furthermore, Abdullah maintained the status quo during the waves of protest in the kingdom during the Arab Spring. In November 2013, a BBC report claimed that Saudi Arabia could obtain nuclear weapons at will from Pakistan due to a longstanding relationship.

The King outlived two of his crown princes. Conservative Interior Minister Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud was named heir to the throne on the death of Sultan bin Abdulaziz in October 2011, but Nayef himself died in June 2012. Abdullah then named the 76-year-old defense minister, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, as crown prince. According various reports, Abdullah married about 30 times, and had more than 35 children. The king had a personal fortune estimated at US$18 billion, making him the third wealthiest head of state in the world. He died on 23 January 2015, aged 90, three weeks after being hospitalized for pneumonia.

Early lifeEdit

King Abdullah, Commander of Saudi Arabian National Guard

King Abdullah as Commander of Saudi National Guard

Abdullah was born on 1 August 1924 in Riyadh. He was the tenth son of King Abdulaziz. His mother, Fahda bint Asi Al Shuraim, was a member of the Al Rashid dynasty, longtime rivals of the Al Saud dynasty. She was descended from the powerful Shammar tribe and was the daughter of former Shammar tribe chief Asi Shuraim. She died when Abdullah was six. He had younger full-sisters.

Madawi Al-Rasheed argues that his maternal roots and his experience of an early speech impediment led to delay in his rise to higher status among the other sons of King Abdulaziz.

Commander of National GuardEdit

In 1963, Abdullah was made commander of Saudi National Guard (SANG). This post allowed him to secure his position in the House of Saud. SANG, which had been based on the Ikhwan, became a modern army force under his command. Beginning by 1985, SANG also sponsors the Janadiriyah festival that institutionalized the traditional folk dances, camel races, and tribal heritage.

Second Deputy Prime MinisterEdit

Quayle desert storm

Abdullah with US Vice President Dan Quayle

King Khalid appointed Prince Abdullah as second deputy prime minister in March 1975, a reflection of being the second in line of succession to the Saudi throne. In other words, after this appointment, Prince Abdullah became the number three-man in Saudi administration. However, his appointment caused friction in the House of Saud. Then-crown prince Prince Fahd together with his full-brothers known as Sudairi Seven supported the appointment of their own full brother, Prince Sultan. Prince Abdullah was pressured to concede control of SANG in return for his appointment as Second Deputy Prime Minister. In August 1977, this caused a debate between hundreds of princes in Riyadh. Abdullah did not concede authority of SANG because he feared that would weaken his authority.

Crown Prince and RegentEdit

On 13 June 1982 when King Khalid died, Fahd bin Abdulaziz became King, Prince Abdullah became Crown Prince the same day. He also maintained his position as head of the National Guard. During his years as crown prince, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz was described as a supporter of accommodation. He managed to group a large number of fringe and marginalized princes discontented with the prospect of the succession being passed among the Sudairi brothers one after the other. His control of the National Guard also was a key factor in his success in becoming crown prince. When King Fahd was incapacitated by a major stroke in 1995, Crown Prince Abdullah acted as de facto regent of Saudi Arabia.

In May 2001, Crown Prince Abdullah did not accept an invitation to visit Washington due to U.S. support for Israel in the Second Intifada. He also appeared more eager than King Fahd to cut government spending and open Saudi Arabia up economically. He pushed for Saudi membership in the World Trade Organization, surprising some.

In August 2001, he ordered then Saudi Ambassador to the US, Bandar bin Sultan, to return to Washington. This reportedly occurred after Crown Prince Abdullah witnessed a brutality between an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian woman. He later also condemned Israel for attacking families of accused suspects.

In 2002, he developed an Arab Peace Initiative, commonly referred to as the "Abdullah plan", to achieve mutually agreed-on resolution of the Arab–Israeli conflict. The initiative was adopted at the Arab League's Beirut summit in March 2002.

On the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Crown Prince Abdullah wrote a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush, which ended with the following words:

"God Almighty, in His wisdom, tests the faithful by allowing such calamities to happen. But He, in His mercy, also provides us with the will and determination, generated by faith, to enable us to transform such tragedies into great achievements, and crises that seem debilitating are transformed into opportunities for the advancement of humanity. I only hope that, with your cooperation and leadership, a new world will emerge out of the rubble of the World Trade Center: a world that is blessed by the virtues of freedom, peace, prosperity and harmony."

By late 2003, after the Saudi Arabian branch of al-Qaeda carried out a series of bombings that threatened to destabilize the country, Crown Prince Abdullah together with other decision-making elites began to deal with political concerns. One of such moves was his project to promote more tolerance for religious diversity and rein in the forces of politico-religious extremism in the kingdom, leading to the establishment of National Dialogue. In the summer of 2003, Abdullah threw his considerable weight behind the creation of a national dialogue that brought leading religious figures together, including a highly publicized meeting attended by the kingdom's preeminent Shi'i scholar Hasan al-Saffar, as well as a group of Sunni clerics who had previously expressed their loathing for the Shi'i minority. (See also King Abdulaziz Center For National Dialogue)

King of Saudi ArabiaEdit

Royal Standard of Saudi Arabia

Royal Standard of the King

Abdullah succeeded to the throne upon the death of his half-brother King Fahd. He was formally enthroned on 2 August 2005.

Domestic affairsEdit

King Abdullah's administration has realized various reforms in different fields.

In 2005, King Abdullah implemented a government scholarship program to send young Saudi men and women to study abroad in different universities around the world for undergraduate and postgraduate studies. The program offered funds for tuition and living expenses up to four years. It is estimated that more than 70,000 students studied abroad in more than 25 countries. United States, England, and Australia are the top three destinations mostly aimed for by the young Saudi students. There are more than 22,000 Saudi students studying in the United States, exceeding pre-9/11 levels. Public health engagement included breast cancer awareness and CDC cooperation to set up an advanced epidemic screening network that protected this year's 3 million Hajj pilgrims.

King Abdullah has implemented many reform measures. He has re-shuffled the Ministry of Education's leadership in February 2009 by bringing in his pro-reform son-in-law, Faisal bin Abdullah, as the new minister. He also appointed Nora Al Fayez, a U.S.-educated former teacher, as deputy education minister in charge of a new department for female students.

He realized a top-to-bottom restructuring of the country's courts to introduce, among other things, review of judicial decisions and more professional training for Shari'a judges. He developed a new investment promotion agency to overhaul the once-convoluted process of starting a business in Saudi Arabia. He created a regulatory body for capital markets. He has promoted the construction of the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (the country's new flagship and controversially co-ed institution for advanced scientific research). He invested in educating the workforce for future jobs. The Saudi government is also encouraging the development of non-hydrocarbon sectors in which the Kingdom has a comparative advantage, including mining, solar energy, and religious tourism.

Vladimir Putin in Saudi Arabia 11-12 February 2007-1

King Abdullah with Russian President Vladimir Putin on 11 February 2007.

The response of his administration to homegrown terrorism was a series of crackdowns including raids by security forces, arrests, torture and public beheadings. He vowed to fight terrorist ideologies within the country. He made the protection of Saudi Arabia's critical infrastructure a top security priority.

His strategy against terrorism has been two-pronged: he attacked the roots of the extremism that fed Al-Qaida through education and judicial reforms to weaken the influence of the most reactionary elements of Saudi Arabia's religious establishment. He is also promoting economic diversification.

He decreed in August 2010 that only officially approved religious scholars associated with the Senior Council of Ulema would be allowed to issue fatwas. Similar decrees since 2005 were previously seldom enforced. Individual fatwas relating to personal matters were exempt from the royal decree. The decree also instructed the Grand Mufti to identify eligible scholars. 

In light of the Arab Spring, Abdullah laid down a $37-billion programme of new spending including new jobless benefits, education and housing subsidies, debt write-offs, and a new sports channel. There was also a pledge to spend a total of $400 billion by the end of 2014 to improve education, health care and the kingdom's infrastructure. However, Saudi police arrested 100 Shiite protesters who complained of government discrimination. Later during the 2011–2012 Saudi Arabian protests, in September 2011, the King announced women's right to vote in the 2015 municipal council elections, a first significant reform step in the country since the protests. He also stated that women would become eligible to take part in the unelected shura.

In January 2012, King Abdullah dismissed the head of Saudi Arabia's powerful religious police, replacing him with a more moderate cleric, state news agency SPA reported, without giving reasons. Abdullatif Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh was named, in place of Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Humain, to head the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. King Abdullah had appointed Humain in 2009 to head the "mutaween," which ensures the strict application of the country's ultra-conservative version of Islam, as a step towards reforming it. Humain hired consultants to restructure the organisation, met local human rights groups and consulted professional image-builders in a broad public relations campaign. Under his leadership the commission also investigated and punished some "out-of-control" officers for misbehaviour.

KAUST laboratory buildings and town mosque

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

In July 2012, Saudi Arabia announced that it would allow its women athletes to compete in the Olympics for the first time and that the country's Olympic Committee would "oversee participation of women athletes who can qualify". The decision ended speculation that the entire Saudi team might have been disqualified on grounds of gender discrimination. The public participation of women in sport is still fiercely opposed by many Saudi religious conservatives. There is almost no public tradition of women participating in sport in the country. Saudi officials said that, if successful in qualifying, female competitors would be dressed "to preserve their dignity". On 11 January 2013, King Abdullah appointed thirty women to the Consultative Assembly or Shura Council and modified the related law to mandate that no less than 20 percent of 150 members would be women.

In August 2013, the Saudi cabinet approved a law making domestic violence a criminal offence for the first time. The law calls for a punishment of up to a year in prison and a fine of up to 50,000 riyals (US$13,000). The maximum punishments can be doubled for repeat offenders. The law criminalizes psychological and sexual abuse, as well as physical abuse. It also includes a provision obliging employees to report instances of abuse in the workplace to their employer. The move followed a Twitter campaign. The new laws were welcomed by Saudi women's rights activists, although some expressed concerns that the law could not be implemented successfully without new training for the judiciary, and that the tradition of male guardianship would remain an obstacle to prosecutions.

Interfaith dialogueEdit

In November 2007, King Abdullah visited Pope Benedict XVI in the Apostolic Palace. He is the first Saudi monarch to visit the Pope. In March 2008, he called for a “brotherly and sincere dialogue between believers from all religions”.

Kerry and Abdullah, 2014

Abdullah in a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, 5 January 2014.

In June 2008, he held a conference in Mecca to urge Muslim leaders to speak with one voice with Jewish and Christian leaders. He discussed with and took approval from Saudi and non-Saudi Islamic scholars to hold the interfaith dialogue. In the same month, Saudi Arabia and Spain agreed to hold the interfaith dialogue in Spain. The historic conference finally took place in Madrid in July 2008 where religious leaders of different faiths participated, and later led to the 2010 proclamation of World Interfaith Harmony Week.

He had never previously made overtures for dialogue with eastern religious leaders, such as Hindus and Buddhists. The Mecca conference discussed a paper on dialogue with monotheists — highlighting the monotheistic religions of southeast Asia, including Sikhism — in the third axis of the fourth meeting, titled "With Whom We Talk," presented by Sheikh Badrul Hasan Al Qasimi. The session was chaired by Ezz Eddin Ibrahim, cultural adviser to the president of the United Arab Emirates. The session also discussed a paper presented on coordination among Islamic institutions on Dialogue by Abdullah bin Omar Nassif, Secretary General of the World Islamic Council for Preaching and Relief and a paper on dialogue with divine messages, presented by Professor Mohammad Sammak – Secretary General of the Islamic Spiritual Summit in Lebanon.

In November 2008, he and his government arranged discussion at the United Nations General Assembly to “promote dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, as well as activities related to a culture of peace” and calling for “concrete action at the global, regional and subregional levels.” It brought together Muslim and non-Muslim nations to eradicate preconceptions as to Islam and terrorism, with world leaders — including former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Israeli President Shimon Peres, U.S. President George W. Bush and King Abdullah II of Jordan — attending.

In 2011, an agreement for the establishment of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna was signed between the governments of Austria, Spain, and Saudi Arabia. The official opening of the centre was in November 2012, with foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal as its first general secretary and Austria's former federal justice minister Claudia Bandion-Ortner as the first deputy general secretary.

Arab common marketEdit

King Abdullah called for the establishment of an Arab common market in January 2011. Saudi foreign minister, Saud bin Faisal, stated the Arab Customs Union would be ready by 2015 and by 2017 the common market would also be in place. There have been intensive efforts to link Arab countries with a railway system and an electricity power grid. Work on the power grid project has started in some Arab countries.

United StatesEdit

Bush-abdullah1

Abdullah visits the United States in April 2005

King Abdullah has long been pro-American and a long time close ally of the United States. In October 1976, as Prince Abdullah was being trained for greater responsibility in Riyadh, he was sent to the United States to meet with President Gerald Ford. He again traveled to the United States as Crown Prince in October 1987, meeting Vice President George H. W. Bush. In September 1998, Crown Prince Abdullah made a state visit to the United States to meet in Washington, D.C. with President Bill Clinton. In September 2000, he attended millennium celebrations at the United Nations in New York City. In April 2002, Crown Prince Abdullah made a state visit to the United States with President George W. Bush and he returned again in April 2005 with Bush. In April 2009, at a summit for world leaders U.S. President Barack Obama met him. In June 2009, King Abdullah hosted President Obama in Saudi Arabia. In turn, Obama hosted King Abdullah at the White House in the same month.

He showed great support for Obama's presidency. "Thank God for bringing Obama to the presidency", he said, adding that Obama's election created "great hope" in the Muslim world. He stated, "We (the U.S. and Saudi Arabia) spilled blood together" in Kuwait and Iraq and Saudi Arabia valued this tremendously and friendship can be a difficult issue that requires work but the United States and Saudi Arabia have done it for 70 years over three generations. "Our disagreements don't cut to the bone", he stated. He was the leading gift-giver to the U.S. president and his office in his first two years in office, his gifts totaling more than $300,000. A ruby and diamond jewelry set, given by the king and accepted by Michelle Obama on behalf of the United States, was worth $132,000. However, according to federal law, gifts of such nature and value are accepted "on behalf of the United States" and are considered property of the U.S. government.

IraqEdit

The Bush administration ignored advice from him and Saudi foreign minister Saud Al Faisal against invading Iraq. However, other sources said that many Arab governments were only nominally opposed to the Iraq invasion because of popular hostility. Before becoming king, Prince Abdullah was thought to be completely against the U.S. invasion of Iraq; this, however, was not the case. Riyadh provided essential support to the United States during the war and proved that "necessity does lead to some accommodations from time to time". The King expressed a complete lack of trust in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki and held out little hope for improved Saudi-Iraqi relations as long as al-Maliki remains in office. King Abdullah told an Iraqi official about Al Maliki, “You and Iraq are in my heart, but that man is not.”

In September 2014 following the spread of ISIL, he issued a statement, "From the cradle of revelation and the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), I call on leaders and scholars of the Islamic nation to carry out their duty towards God Almighty, and to stand in the face of those trying to hijack Islam and present it to the world as a religion of extremism, hatred, and terrorism, and to speak the word of truth, and not fear anybody. Our nation today is passing through a critical, historic stage, and history will be witness against those who have been the tool exploited by the enemies to disperse and tear the nation and tarnish the pure image of Islam".

IranEdit

ObamaKing Abdullah

Barack Obama meets with King Abdullah.

In 2006, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei had sent his adviser Ali Akbar Velayati with a letter asking for King Abdullah's agreement to establish a formal back channel for communication between the two leaders. Abdullah said he had agreed, and the channel was established with Velayati and Saud Al Faisal as the points of contact. In the years since, the King noted, the channel had never been used.

In April 2008, according to a U.S. cable released by Wikileaks, King Abdullah had told the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, and General David Petraeus to "cut off the head of the snake". Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, "recalled the King's frequent exhortations to the US to attack Iran" and to put an end to its nuclear program. King Abdullah asserted that Iran is trying to set up Hezbollah-like organizations in African countries, observing that the Iranians don't think they are doing anything wrong and don't recognize their mistakes. He said the Iranians "launch missiles with the hope of putting fear in people and the world". The King described his conversation with Iranian foreign minister Mottaki as "a heated exchange, frankly discussing Iran's interference in Arab affairs". When challenged by the King on Iranian meddling in Hamas affairs, Mottaki apparently protested that "these are Muslims". "No, Arabs", countered the King. "You as Persians have no business meddling in Arab matters". King Abdullah said he would favor Rafsanjani in an Iranian election.

He told General Jones that Iranian internal turmoil presented an opportunity to weaken the regime—which he encouraged—but he also urged that this be done covertly and stressed that public statements in support of the reformers were counterproductive. The King assessed that sanctions could help weaken the government, but only if they are strong and sustained.

BahrainEdit

In March 2014 Saudi forces led troops into Bahrain to quell peaceful demonstrations. At the same time, the Saudis formed the Gulf Cooperation Council to coordinate efforts between different Gulf countries.

Saudi Arabia, by the endorsement of the Gulf Cooperation Council, sent 1,200 troops to Bahrain to protect industrial facilities, resulting in strained relations with the United States. The military personnel were part of the Peninsula Shield Force which is stationed in Saudi Arabia but not affiliated with one country alone.

Guantánamo BayEdit

In December 2010, leaked diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks revealed that King Abdullah wanted all detainees released from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to be tracked through an implanted microchip, in a similar way to race horses. The King made the private suggestion during a meeting in Riyadh in March 2009 with John O. Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser. Brennan replied that "horses don't have good lawyers" and that such a proposal would "face legal hurdles" in the United States. In the same cables, it was revealed that Abdullah also privately urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear weapons program.

ChinaEdit

Since King Abdullah's visit to Beijing in January 2006, the Saudi-Chinese relationship has focused predominantly on energy and trade. The king's visit was the first by a Saudi head of state to China since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1990. Bilateral trade with China has more than tripled, and China would soon be Saudi Arabia's largest importer. Saudi Arabia also committed significant investments in China, including the $8 billion Fujian refinery. Based on a WikiLeaks cable, the King told the Chinese that it was willing to effectively trade a guaranteed oil supply in return for Chinese pressure on Iran not to develop nuclear weapons.

In late March 2011, King Abdullah sent Bandar, secretary general of the National Security Council, to China to gain its support regarding Saudi Arabia's attitude towards the Arab Spring. In turn, lucrative arm contracts were secretly offered to China by the Kingdom. Furthermore, King Abdullah believed that China as well as India were the future markets for Saudi energy.

Relations with other nationsEdit

Wizyta króla Arabii Saudyjskiej Abdullaha bin Abdulaziz Al Saud w Polsce 2007

Abdullah with Lech Kaczyński, President of Poland.

In November 2009, King Abdullah was received by Nicolas Sarkozy, who committed various diplomatic faux pas. The diplomatic relationship Jacques Chirac had with Saudi Arabia was not evident with Sarkozy. In January 2011, the Kingdom granted asylum to the ousted Tunisian leader, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, under conditions of no further political involvement. According to leaked cables, King Abdullah was more receptive than Crown Prince Sultan to former Yemeni President Saleh.

King Abdullah supported renewed diplomatic relations with the Syrian government and Bashar al-Assad. They met in Damascus on 7 October 2009. In addition, Assad attended the opening of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in October 2009. Relations between Syria and Saudi Arabia deteriorated as a result of the Syrian Civil War. In August 2011, King Abdullah recalled the Saudi Ambassador from Damascus due to the political unrest in Syria and closed its embassy in Syria.

In December 2011, King Abdullah called on leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council to strengthen their alliance into a united "single entity" as they confront threats to national security. "I ask you today to move from a stage of cooperation to a stage of union in a single entity", King Abdullah said at the opening session of a GCC meeting in Riyadh in comments aired on Saudi state television. “No doubt, you all know we are targeted in our security and stability.”

Criticism as kingEdit

On 16 February 2003, Parade magazine's David Wallechinsky rated King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah as the second worst dictators in the world. Most of this criticism stems from the fact that most of Saudi citizens live under a strict Wahhabist interpretation of Sharia law, which mandates the amputation of hands as a punishment for theft and floggings for crimes like drunkenness. Execution by public beheading is common for murder, rape, drug trafficking and witchcraft, and Abdullah's policies towards the rights of women have also been criticized. In a slight rebuff to accusations of human rights violations, Saudi inmates of Najran Province sent the King well-wishes from jail and wished him a speedy recovery.

King Abdullah has also been criticized for his policies on religious freedom and the Saudi government allegedly has arrested Shiite pilgrims on the Hajj. On 24 January 2007, Human Rights Watch sent an open letter to King Abdullah asking him to cease religious persecution of the Ahmadi faith in Saudi Arabia. Two letters were sent in November 2006 and February 2007 asking him to remove the travel ban on critics of the Saudi government. Human Rights Watch has not yet indicated whether they have received any response to these letters.

Succession to the throneEdit

King Abdullah's heir apparent was his half-brother Crown Prince Sultan until the latter's death on 22 October 2011. The title of Crown Prince then passed to Prince Sultan's full-brother, Nayef, until his death in Geneva, Switzerland, on 16 June 2012, while undergoing medical tests for an undisclosed ailment. His third heir apparent was his half-brother Salman, who was named as Crown Prince on 18 June 2012, and would succeed him in 2015.

In 2006, Abdullah set up the Allegiance Council, a body that is composed of the sons and grandsons of Saudi Arabia's founder, King Abdulaziz, to vote by a secret ballot to choose future kings and crown princes. The council's mandate was not to have started until after the reigns of both King Abdullah and late Prince Sultan were over. It was not clear what was to happen when Prince Sultan died before the end of Abdullah's reign, leaving a question as to whether the council would vote for a new crown prince, or whether Prince Nayef would automatically fill that position. Despite such concerns, Prince Nayef was appointed Crown Prince on 27 October 2011 after consultation with the Allegiance Council by Abdullah.

In November 2010, Prince Nayef chaired a cabinet meeting because of the deterioration of the King's health. During the same month, King Abdullah transferred his duties as Commander of the Saudi National Guard to his son Prince Mutaib. King Abdullah is credited with building up the once largely ceremonial unit into a modern 260,000-strong force that is a counterweight to the army. The Guard, which was Abdullah's original power base, protects the royal family. This was suggested as an apparent sign that the elderly monarch was beginning to lessen some of his duties.

Various positionsEdit

King Abdullah was Commander of the Saudi National Guard from 1963 to 2010. He was Chairman of the Saudi Supreme Economic Council until 2009. He also continued to be the President of the High Council for Petroleum and Minerals, President of the King Abdulaziz Center For National Dialogue, Chairman of the Council of Civil Service, and head of the Military Service Council until his death in 2015.

Personal lifeEdit

King Abdullah in his youth

King Abdullah was a falconer in his youth

King Abdullah followed his father's (King Abdulaziz's) path in terms of marriage in that he married the daughters of the al Shalan of Anizah, al Fayz of Bani Sakhr, and al Jarbah of the Iraqi branch of the Shammar tribe. King Abdullah had about 30 wives, and fathered about 35 children. One of his wives is the sister of Rifaat al-Assad's wife. He also married Jawahir bint Ali Hussein from Al Jiluwi clan, with whom he had a daughter, Princess Anoud and a son, Prince Saud. Aida Fustuq was another wife of Abdullah, they had 2 children, Adila and Abdulaziz. They divorced later. Munira bint Abdullah Al Al Shaykh was the wife of King Abdullah and gave birth to his eldest living son, Prince Khaled. Tathi bint Mishan al Faisal Al Jarba gave birth to Prince Mishaal.

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