HRH Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud - The Former Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Servant of the Two Noble Sanctuaries, Protector of the Two Holy Cities, King of Saudi Arabia.

Born 1924 - Died 2015

 
 King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Photographed by Dylan Martinez — Reuters

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Photographed by Dylan Martinez — Reuters

 

Leadership and Reform

King Abdullah was one of the many sons of Ibn Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia. He ascended to the throne on 1 August 2005 upon the death of his half-brother, King Fahd.

During his reign he maintained close relations with United States and United Kingdom. He also gave women the right to vote for municipal councils and to compete in the Olympics. Furthermore, King Abdullah maintained peace and stability within the Kingdom when waves of protests hit the Arab world in 2011.

A decorated and beloved leader, 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.

 

“Good governance can eliminate injustice, destitution and poverty.”

— ABDULLAH BIN ABDULAZIZ AL SAUD, KING OF SAUDI ARABIA

 
 

King Abdullah was, in 2012, named as the most influential Muslim among 500 Muslims for the previous 4 years. In December 2012, Forbes named him as the seventh most powerful figure in its list of the "World's Most Powerful People" for 2012, being the sole Arab in the top ten.

International Honors & Awards →

 
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 Paulo Filgueiras, United Nations

Paulo Filgueiras, United Nations

 

Interfaith Dialogue and Philanthropy

King Abdullah visited Pope Benedict XVI in the Apostolic Palace, being the first and only Saudi monarch to do so. He repeatedly called for a "brotherly and sincere dialogue between believers from all religions".

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 obtained 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, wherein religious leaders of different faiths participated, and which later led to the 2010 proclamation of World Interfaith Harmony Week.

 

“Religions through which Almighty God sought to bring happiness to mankind should not be turned into instruments to cause misery.”

— ABDULLAH BIN ABDULAZIZ AL SAUD, KING OF SAUDI ARABIA

 
 

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.

Philanthropic Projects →

 
 (AsiaNews)

(AsiaNews)

 

Steadfast American Ally

During his reign as monarch King Abdullah figured as a powerful and steadfast U.S. ally who joined Washington’s fight against al-Qaida and sought to modernize the kingdom. King Abdullah had long been pro-American and a longtime 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 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 President Barack Obama met with King Abdullah, while in June 2009 he hosted President Obama in Saudi Arabia. In turn, Obama hosted the King at the White House in the same month.

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“A Leader of Consequence” by S. Rob Sobhani

 

“King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia: A Leader of Consequence”, a book by S. Rob Sobhani, PhD., (Caspian Publishing) concentrates on King Abdullah's role as a reformist. The king's emphasis on education for both sexes at home and abroad, the importance of the role of women in society, the need to address extremism and its root causes, and the requirement that those who rule be fair and honest, sets him apart from many other global leaders. It is all the more impressive that these efforts and initiatives are pursued while King Abdullah effectively balances his religious obligations as "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques" with his day-to-day responsibilities for managing a vibrant and rapidly developing country of some 26 million people.