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The Saudi Royal Family (Major World Leaders) by Jennifer Bond Reed

By Jennifer Bond Reed

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Abdul Aziz was a great ruler, but he had no administrative experience. Now that he had united his country under Islam and one god, he did not really know how to operate it. His instinct told him to rule as he did in the desert. If a person asked him for money to help buy food or medicine, Abdul Aziz gave it to him. It never occurred to the great king to set up some kind of ministry to take care of the medical, social, and economic needs of many people. The kingdom itself was isolated. The capital of Riyadh, in the middle of the peninsula, enticed few Westerners—in fact, KING ABDUL AZIZ­—A NEW KINGDOM Five sons of King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud board a plane at Herne Airport in Hampshire, England, on August 31, 1945.

In the early 1950s, in the early years of the Cold War, extremists rallied in the Middle East and disputes arose between Arab nations such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. There was also the threat of invasion by the Soviet Union to the north. One thing Saudi Arabia had in its favor was that the United States opposed the Soviet Union as much as it did. About this time, Saud found himself in financial trouble. He had been spending so much money building palaces and 45 46 THE SAUDI ROYAL FAMILY mansions that he nearly ran his country into debt.

Feelings were no doubt hurt when one son was chosen over another, which is exactly what happened between Saud and Faisal. Abdul Aziz chose Faisal to lead an attack on Jeddah. There was a foreign diplomatic community in Jeddah, and Abdul Aziz felt Faisal could best handle this particular situation because of his experience with foreign KING SAUD, THE BLACK SHEIKH: 1953–1964 In 1946, Faisal and his son Muhammad bin Faisal bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud attended a Palestine conference in London, England.

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