Former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, 2007-09
Caspian Publishing, Inc. 2009. 188 pages.
S. Rob Sobhani's King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia: A Leader of Consequence, is a remarkably insightful and detailed tribute to an important and influential twenty-first-century head of state. In preparing this book, Sobhani traveled to the kingdom five times, meeting with King Abdullah, his close advisers, government officials, scholars, journalists and other Saudi citizens. The result is a volume that should be of value to those seeking to learn more about Saudi Arabia and itsvisionary king, as well as those who already know the subject well, a volume that is enhanced by beautiful photographs, verses from the Quran,and quotations of King Abdullah.
King Abdullah's contribution to regional and global peace, prosperity and reform is brilliantly captured in this book, along with a feel for the compassion and generosity of the man himself. A true "king for his people," Abdullah's efforts to provide a safe, stable and productive environment for his citizens mark him as a visionary and a man of principle and energy. History will record his efforts to bring peace to the region, along with his strong desire to help create a better world through his Interfaith Dialogue Initiative, a program that should have far-reaching benefits, through his support for moderate and stable oil prices, and through his generous provision of foreign humanitarian and development assistance. This book does an excellent job in highlighting and detailing these efforts.
Sobhani's book also 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. This includes his efforts to manage the kingdom's oil resources wisely and to diversify the kingdom's economy for today's citizens and future generations.
It was my privilege to work with King Abdullah when I served as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2007 to 2009. During this time, I came to respect his direct, honest, no-nonsense approach to solving problems. He had a way of humanizing the most complex and complicated issues, and an ability to quickly cut to the heart of the matter at hand. His strength of character and his core beliefs were clear to see. They guided him in all his interactions and allowed him to provide the type of strong leadership that one finds in all great leaders. These personal important aspects of the man are well captured in Mr. Sobhani's book, and for this reason it was a particular pleasure for me to read.