House of Saud
|“||They are one of the richest families in the world. But what lies beneath the veils of the Saudi royal family, a dynasty that rose out of the desert? A family of larger-than-life legends. A family whose wealth was built on black gold. A family whose excesses make front page news.||„|
|~ A&E Biography, "The Saudi Royal Family".|
The House of Saud (Arabic: آل سعود, romanized: ʾĀl Suʿūd IPA: [ʔaːl sʊʕuːd]) is the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia. It is composed of the descendants of Muhammad bin Saud, founder of the Emirate of Diriyah, known as the First Saudi state (1744–1818), and his brothers, though the ruling faction of the family is primarily led by the descendants of Ibn Saud, the modern founder of Saudi Arabia.The most influential position of the royal family is the King of Saudi Arabia. King Salman, who reigns currently, chose first his nephew and then his son as the crown prince without consulting the Allegiance Council. The family is estimated to comprise 15,000 members, but the majority of the power and wealth is possessed by a group of about 2,000 of them.
The House of Saud has gone through three phases: the Emirate of Diriyah, the First Saudi State (1744–1818), marked by the expansion of Wahhabism; the Emirate of Nejd, the Second Saudi State (1824–1891), marked with continuous infighting; and the Third Saudi State (1902–present), which evolved into Saudi Arabia in 1932 and now wields considerable influence in the Middle East. The family has had conflicts with the Ottoman Empire, the Sharif of Mecca, the Al Rashid family of Ha'il and their vassal houses in Najd, numerous Islamist groups both inside and outside Saudi Arabia and Shia minority in Saudi Arabia.
The succession to the Saudi Arabian throne was designed to pass from one son of the first king by the name of Ibn Saud to another. The next in line, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, is the son of King Salman. The king-appointed cabinet includes more members of the royal family. The monarchy was hereditary by agnatic seniority until 2006, when a royal decree provided that future Saudi kings are to be elected by a committee of Saudi princes.
House of Saud is a translation of Al Saud, an Arabic dynastic name formed by adding the word Al (meaning "family of" or "House of") to the personal name of an ancestor. In the case of the Al Saud, the ancestor is Saud ibn Muhammad ibn Muqrin, the father of the dynasty's 18th century founder Muhammad bin Saud (Muhammad, son of Saud).
Today, the surname "Al Saud" is carried by any descendant of Muhammad bin Saud or his three brothers Farhan, Thunayyan, and Mishari. Al Saud's other family branches like Saud al-Kabir, the Al Jiluwi, the Al Thunayan, the Al Mishari and the Al Farhan are called cadet branches. Members of the cadet branches hold high and influential positions in government though they are not in the line of succession to the Saudi throne. Many cadet members intermarry within the Al Saud to reestablish their lineage and continue to wield influence in the government.
All members of the royal family have the title of Emir (Prince) but sons, daughters, patrilineal granddaughters and grandsons of Kings are referred to by the style "His Royal Highness" (HRH), differing from patrilineal great-grandsons and members of cadet branches who are called "His Highness" (HH), while the reigning king uses the additional title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
In June 2015 Forbes listed Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal as the 34th-richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$28 billion. Prince Al-Waleed had a net worth of $20.4 billion in 2014. By 2016, according to the TeleSUR, King Salman "net worth was estimated at US$17.0 billion".
The net worth of the entire royal family has been estimated at well over $2 trillion which makes them one of the wealthiest families in the world if not the wealthiest.
Due to its authoritarian and quasi-theocratic rule, the House of Saud has attracted much criticism during its rule of Saudi Arabia. There have been numerous incidents, including the Wahhabi Ikhwan militia uprising during the reign of Ibn Saud. Osama bin Laden, a critic of the US, was a critic of Saudi Arabia and was denaturalized in the mid 1990s.
On 20 November 1979, the Grand Mosque seizure saw the al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca violently seized by a group of 500 heavily armed and provisioned Saudi dissidents led by Juhayman al-Otaybi and Abdullah al-Qahtani, consisting mostly of members of the former Ikhwan militia of Otaibah but also of other peninsular Arabs and a few Egyptians enrolled in Islamic studies at the Islamic University of Madinah. The Saudi royal family turned to the Ulema who duly issued a fatwa permitting the storming of the holy sanctuary by Saudi forces, aided by French and Pakistani special ops units. According to Lawrence Wright, the GIGN commandos did convert to Islam. Most of those responsible, including Al-Otaybi himself, were beheaded publicly in four cities of Saudi Arabia.
In January 2016, Saudi Arabia executed the prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr, who had called for pro-democracy demonstrations, along with forty-seven other Saudi shia citizens sentenced by the Specialized Criminal Court on terrorism charges.
Since May 2017 in response to protests against the government, the predominantly Shia town of Al-Awamiyah has been put under full siege by the Saudi military. Residents are not allowed to enter or leave, and military indiscriminately shells the neighborhoods with airstrikes, mortar and artillery fire along with snipers shooting residents. Dozens of Shia civilians were killed, including a three year old and a two-year-old child. The Saudi government claims it is fighting terrorists in al-Awamiyah.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman kept his own mother away from his father for more than two years, out of the fear that she would stop the king from giving the power to him. Princess Fahda bint Falah Al Hathleen, third wife of King Salman was said to be in the US for medical treatment. However, according to the US intelligence she was not in the country.
Some Royals have been criticised for various human rights violations, including the death of Jamal Khashoggi, treatment of workers, and the Yemen war.