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A History of Saudi Arabia

Discussion in 'World History' started by Ahmad, Dec 12, 2002.

  1. Ahmad

    Ahmad Warlord

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    I got a message telling me that it was a good idea to post a historical summary of Saudi Arabia since people on these forums tend to be interested in that sort of thing.

    Before we begin, here's a simplified list of some regions in Saudi Arabia:

    Hasa: Eastern region of Saudi Arabia
    Hejaz: Western region of Saudi Arabia (includes the holy cities of Mecca and Medina)
    Najd: Central region of Saudi Arabia (includes Riyadh)
    Najran: South-Western region of Saudi Arabia
    Rub al-Khali (Empty Quarter): South-Eastern region of Saudi Arabia

    Also, since we all know we are talking about the Al Saud family, I won’t mention the last name when referring to any of it’s members.

    And now the history:

    The First Saudi State

    The first ruler of the First House of Saud was Muhammad bin Saud (forebear of the present rulers). He started as ruler of Ad-Dar'iyah, where he joined forces with Immam Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab, the eminent religious leader (founder of the Wahhabi sect), in what could be called the first alliance.

    Muhammad bin Saud concluded an agreement with Imam Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab that together they would bring the Arabs of the peninsula back to what they believed to be the true faith of the Islamic religion. They confirmed this agreement with an oath in 1744.

    Muhammad bin Saud's son, Abdul Aziz bin Muhammad, ruled from 1765 through 1803, retaining the association with Imam Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab in the same capacity as his father and continuing to reform Islam in the peninsula. Imam Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab died in 1792.

    Abdul Aziz bin Muhammad successfully captured the city of Riyadh in 1773. The Saudi state began to spread rapidly and within fifteen years had extended its authority all over Najd.

    After the death of Abdul Aziz bin Muhammad, his son, Saud bin Abdul Aziz, ruled from 1803 through 1814. During his reign, the Holy City of Mecca was captured, and the Saudi Kingdom expanded into the Hejaz in the west, Hasa in the east, and south towards Najran.

    Such an increase in authority was not to pass unchallenged. The Turkish Empire concluded that action must be taken and invited Muhammad Ali, the Viceroy of Egypt (which at that time fell within the Ottoman sphere of influence) to dismantle the work of Muhammad bin Saud, his son and grandson, and to put an end to the emerging nation.

    Before Saud bin Abdul Aziz died in 1814, Muhammad Ali had retaken the Hejaz.

    Saud bin Abdul Aziz's son, Abdullah bin Saud (who ruled until 1818), was unable to halt the Egyptian advance. Ad-Dar'iyah was taken and Abdullah bin Saud removed to Istanbul where his captors executed him. Riyadh was captured in 1818.

    From 1818 to 1824, the Ottoman Empire maintained a few garrisons in Najd, as a gesture of their dominance. Thus, the first temporary decline in the House of Saud occurred.

    The Second Saudi State

    Within a few years, however, the fortunes of the House of Saud were to revive. In 1824, Turki bin Abdullah, a cousin of Saud bin Abdul Aziz, assumed the Amirship of Najd. In the course of his rule (1824 to 1834), he retook Riyadh and continued the Saudi drive for consolidation of the area.

    In 1834, Turki bin Abdullah was assassinated. Turki bin Abdullah 's eldest son, Faisal bin Turki, defeated the assassin and became Imam. Faisal bin Turki refused to acknowledge the Viceroy of Egypt. The Viceroy, Muhammad Ali, was not prepared to see his earlier victories so quickly reversed.

    In 1838, Egyptian forces defeated Faisal bin Turki, retaking Najd. Faisal bin Turki was taken captive and sent to Cairo. Later, when Muhammad Ali declared Egypt's independence from the Ottoman Empire and was forced to withdraw his troops stationed in Najd in order to support his own position in Egypt, Faisal bin Turki escaped from Cairo (after five years of captivity) returning home and resuming his reign which lasted till 1865. By then, the House of Saud once more controlled most of Najd and Hasa.

    On Faisal bin Turki's death, however, Saudi fortunes declined once more. Disagreements between the sons of Faisal weakened the House of Saud. At the same time, a tribal leader of the Shammar, Muhammad bin Rashid, based in Hail, created a strong political body which rapidly covered the greater part of Najd, and by 1871, after concluding a pact with Turkey, captured Hasa.

    In 1889, a younger son of Faisal, Abdul Rahman bin Faisal, managed to confirm the rule of the Saudi dynasty by assuming the leadership of the family. At that time, the authority of the Saudi family centered on Riyadh but, in 1891, the House of Saud faced a further set-back. Muhammad bin Rashid completed his control of Najd by capturing Riyadh, the citadel of the House of Saud. Abdul Rahman bin Faisal was forced to leave the city. He settled for months with the Al-Murrah tribes at the Great Waste, in the outskirts of the Rub al-Khali, the Empty Quarter, accompanied by his son, Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman, the future King of Arabia.

    Eventually, Abdul Rahman bin Faisal left for Bahrain, to gather his family, and then went to Kuwait to live there in exile.

    The Third (Current) Saudi State

    Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman, was deeply concerned with thoughts of his home territory, Najd, the land of his ancestors. He anticipated that he would some day go back again and regain control of that part of Arabia.

    In 1902 Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman retook the city of Riyadh and established his rule over that area. From 1902 through 1926 he consolidated the unity of most of the Arabian Peninsula.

    In September 1932, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded and officially acquired its present name. Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia, ruled until his death in 1953. All of Saudi Arabia's kings since then have been the sons of King Abdul Aziz:

    King Saud bin Abdul Aziz 1953 – 1964 (deposed)
    King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz 1964 – 1975 (assassinated)
    King Khaled bin Abdul Aziz 1975 – 1982 (death)
    King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz 1982 - present
    Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz (heir to the throne)

    This post got longer than I thought it would. If you want a historical summary of present day Saudi Arabia (i.e. 1902+) and it’s kings, I’ll make a follow up post.
     
  2. Raijer

    Raijer The 736th Beatle

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    Facinating read Ahmad. I've been meaning to learn more about middle-eastern history, and this was a step in the right direction. Thanks for your effort!
     
  3. Sultan Bhargash

    Sultan Bhargash Trickster Reincarnated

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    1) Of the four regions you mention, in which does the Rub al-Khali or "Empty Quarter" (long a romantic fascination of mine) occupy?

    2) When you make the second post, about 1902 on, you should add some depth to the rulers' descriptions and times. Of interest to me and I think others who tune in would be the transition between British to U.S. oil rights, the impact of the oil boom on local culture and economy, and the challenges to maintaining the Wahhabi school in recent years.
     
  4. Knight-Dragon

    Knight-Dragon Unhidden Dragon Retired Moderator

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    Isn't the Hejaz along the western coast of Arabia, where also the holy cities are located? :hmm:
     
  5. Knight-Dragon

    Knight-Dragon Unhidden Dragon Retired Moderator

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    I think it's in the Nedj; in the south-eastern...

    But I could be wrong...
     
  6. sabo

    sabo My Ancestors were Vikings

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    Thank you ahmad, what is the exact name of the saudi government? Monarchy? Dictatorship? Theologist?
     
  7. Knight-Dragon

    Knight-Dragon Unhidden Dragon Retired Moderator

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    Theocracy? I think it's a theocratic monarchy. ;)
     
  8. Sultan Bhargash

    Sultan Bhargash Trickster Reincarnated

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    Not a theocracy as the rulers do not claim themselves to be "God" or gods and are not even clergy.

    Saudi Arabia is a monarchy.
     
  9. Alcibiaties of Athenae

    Alcibiaties of Athenae Imperator

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    What was the government before 1744?
     
  10. Dr. Dr. Doktor

    Dr. Dr. Doktor Emperor

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    Good and concise overview Ahmad. Could you include information and opinion on the House of Saud's relations towards the nation of Yemen if you choose to post a 20th century history of Saudi Arabia. I percieve there is some cultural affinity between the Najran province and Yemen.
     
  11. Sultan Bhargash

    Sultan Bhargash Trickster Reincarnated

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    Had to stick this in somewhere: from last night's Daily Show: "Yemen isn't the enemy, it's only an anagram for enemy!"
     
  12. Ahmad

    Ahmad Warlord

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    Wow. Big typo. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Should be:

    Hasa: Eastern region of Saudi Arabia
    Hejaz: Western region of Saudi Arabia (includes the holy cities of Mecca and Medina)
    Najd: Central region of Saudi Arabia (includes Riyadh)
    Najran: South-Western region of Saudi Arabia
    Rub al-Khali (Empty Quarter): South-Eastern region of Saudi Arabia
     
  13. Ahmad

    Ahmad Warlord

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  14. Sultan Bhargash

    Sultan Bhargash Trickster Reincarnated

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    Thanks for the links, Ahmad!
     

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