Friday, December 16, 2011

Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, (Arabic: عبد الله بن عبد العزيز آل سعود‎ ‘Abd ullāh ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Āl Su‘ūd) (born August 1, 1924) is the King of Saudi Arabia. He succeeded to the throne on 1 August 2005 upon the death of his half-brother, King Fahd. When Crown Prince, he governed Saudi Arabia as regent from 1998 to 2005. He was Commander of the Saudi Arabian National Guard from 1962 to November 2010, and is one of the world's wealthiest royals.

Second Deputy Prime Minister
King Khalid appointed Abdullah as Second Deputy Prime Minister, which is second in line of succession to the Saudi throne. However, Abdullah's appointment caused friction in the House of Saud. Fahd and the Sudairi Seven supported the appointment of their own full brother, Sultan.[4] 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.[4] Abdullah did not concede authority of SANG because he feared that would weaken his authority.

Crown Prince
In May 1982, when Fahd became King, Abdullah became Crown Prince the same day. He maintained his position as head of the armed forces.

When Fahd was incapacitated by a major stroke in 1995, Abdullah acted as de facto regent ruler of Saudi Arabia.

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

King of Saudi Arabia
Abdullah succeeded to the throne upon the death of his half-brother King Fahd. He was formally enthroned on August 3, 2005. At age 87, he is one of the world's oldest reigning monarchs. He has topped the 500 Most Influential Muslims list for two consecutive years in 2009 and 2010.

Succession to the throne
King Abdullah's half brother Crown Prince Sultan was his heir-apparent until his death on October 22, 2011. The current Crown Prince is Sultan's full brother, Prince Nayef

In 2006, Abdullah set up the Allegiance Council, a body that is composed of the sons and grandsons of Saudi Arabia's founder, King Abdul-Aziz, 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 Abdullah and Sultan were over. It was not clear, what was to happen, when 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 Nayef would automatically fill that position. Prince Nayef was appointed Crown Prince on October 27, 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. 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 is beginning to lessen some of his duties.

Abdullah is the sixth son (out of 37 sons) of King Abdul-Aziz,[citation needed] the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, to ascend to the throne. He is, after his half-brothers Bandar and Musaid, the third eldest of the living sons of Abdul-Aziz.

His mother is a فهدة العاصي الشريم Al-Rashidi, longtime rivals of the Al Saud. He has had more than thirty wives, and has fathered at least thirty-five children.  His youngest son was born in 2003. His son Prince Mutaib is the Commander of the National Guard. His son Prince Mishaal is the Governor of the Najran Province. His daughter Princess Adila is married to Prince Faisal bin Abdullah bin Muhammad, the new Education Minister appointed in 2009. Adila is one of the few Saudi princesses with a semi-public role and a known advocate of women's right to drive. His son Prince Abdul-Aziz is his Syrian adviser. His son Faisal is the head of the Saudi Arabian Red Crescent Society. His son Khaled is Deputy Commander of the Saudi Arabian National Guard West.

    * King Abdullah paid for the separation surgery of a pair of Polish conjoined twins, which took place at the King Abd al-Aziz Medical City in Riyadh on January 3, 2005. He was given "honorary citizenship" by the Polish town of Janikowo, where the twins were born. On March 18, 2005, he was awarded the Order of the Smile (which he received during his visit to Poland in 2007).

    * He has established two libraries, the King Abdulaziz Library in Riyadh and another in Casablanca, Morocco.

    * He donated over $300,000 to furnish a New Orleans high school rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina.

    * He donated half a billion dollars to the United Nations World Food Programme in 2008

    * He has donated $50 million in cash and $10 million worth of relief materials for the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China.

    * He donated $10 billion to the endowment fund of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in May 2008.

    * He established the King Abdullah University (Rawalakot) in Pakistan's Azad Jammu and Kashmir region after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake.

    * On February 5, 2011, he waived $156 million USD of housing loans for nearly 3,300 Saudis who had died.

His wealth and personal income is estimated at US$21 billion, ranking him as one of the richest royals in the world.

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