Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud
|“||The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not a slave of colonial forces like you and others. … Do not indulge yourself in things you have no business with! The lie is before you and the grave is in front of you!||„|
|~ Abdullah to Muammar Gaddafi at the Arab League Summit in Egypt, 2 March 2003|
Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud, more commonly known as Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (1 August 1924 - 23 January 2015), is the former leader of Saudi Arabia. He is the half-brother of current monarch Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and uncle of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Abdullah is said to have been born on 1 August 1924 in Riyadh. However, some sources state that this date is incorrect and that he was approximately eight years older. 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 House of Saud. She was descended from the powerful Shammar tribe – and was the daughter of former tribe chief, Asi Shuraim. She died when Abdullah was six years old. He had younger full-sisters.
In 1963, Abdullah was made commander of the 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 armed force under his command. Beginning 1985, SANG also sponsored the Janadiriyah festival that institutionalized traditional folk dances, camel races, and tribal heritage. He held the post until 2010.
Abdullah succeeded to the throne upon the death of his half-brother King Fahd. He was formally enthroned on 2 August 2005.
Most of his criticism stems from the fact that most of the 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 standard 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, which is reportedly non-existent, 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 messages 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.
On 30 October 2007, during a state visit to the United Kingdom, King Abdullah was greeted by protesters accusing him of being a "murderer" and a "torturer". Concerns were raised in the UK about the treatment of women and homosexuals by the Saudi kingdom and over alleged bribes involving arms deals between Saudi Arabia and the UK.
In addition to his bad deeds, however, he has done some good things. For example, he has donated lots of money, including to help rebuild homes and schools destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and for relief supplies for victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China. He has also called on other Muslims to reject the extremist ideologies of The Islamic State.
Though he initially had a good relationship with Bashar al-Assad, his relations with him soon deteriorated due to the ongoing Syrian Civil War.
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 two children, Adila and Abdulaziz. They divorced later.
King Abdullah passed away on 23 January 2015. He was 90 years old.