Faisal of Saudi Arabia

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Official portrait, 1945

Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (14 April 1906 – 25 March 1975) was a Saudi Arabian statesman and diplomat who was King of Saudi Arabia from 2 November 1964 until his assassination in 1975, during which time he ushered in a new era in the country's industrialization, agriculture, and other fields. Pan-Islamism, anti-communism, and pro-Palestinian nationalism were his key foreign policy themes. Prior to his ascension, he served as Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia from 9 November 1953 to 2 November 1964, and he was briefly regent to his half-brother King Saud in 1964. He was the third son of King Abdulaziz, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, and the second of Abdulaziz's six sons who were kings.


  • I beg of you, brothers, to look upon me as both brother and servant. 'Majesty' is reserved to God alone and 'the throne' is the throne of the Heavens and Earth.
    • Speech, after he took power, in 1964.[1]
  • Our constitution is the Quran.
    • Responding to the demands for a written constitution, 20 October 1967.[2]
  • The livers are torn apart, and the wings are torn apart when we hear or see our brothers in religion, in the homeland, and in blood, their sanctities are violated, they are displaced and abused daily, not for something they committed, nor for the aggression they attacked, but for the love of control and aggression and to commit injustice.[3]
  • The Islamic call, when it emerged from these places and spread its light to all parts of the earth, was a good call that calls for peace, calls for truth, calls for justice and calls for equality, and this is what our noble Sharia achieves, and this is what we must follow and adhere to.[4]
1950s photograph of Prince Faisal with his father King Abdulaziz (seated) and half-brother Crown Prince Saud (right)
  • We are not the ones who say, 'We will work, but we are used to God's power to say: We have worked.[5]
  • Arm yourselves with science.[6]
  • If I were not a king, I would be a teacher.[7]
  • Our youth education is based on three pillars: belief, science and work.[8]
  • We want this Kingdom to be a beacon of light for humanity, now and fifty years from now.[9]
  • We consider the issue of Palestine our cause and the first Arab cause, and Palestine is more valuable to us than oil. Oil can be used as a weapon in battle if necessary. The Palestinian people must return to their homeland, even if it costs us all our lives.
    • Part of a declaration by King Faisal about his country's willingness to use oil as a weapon against Israel, broadcasted on Saudi Arabia's national radio on 28 March 1965.[10]
  • God gave man two ears and one tongue so we could listen twice as much as we talk.
    • As per an article published in the New York Times in 1975, this was King Faisal's favorite quote.[11]
  • Any drop of oil that goes to Israel will make me cut off the oil for you.
    • Part of a response to the president of the American Tapline Company.[12]
  • King Faisal: We lived, and our ancestors lived on dates and milk, and we will return to them.
    • When the US oil supply was cut off during the Ramadan War, Henry Kissinger warned Faisal of the consequences. Kissinger receives a response from Faisal.[13]
  • Henry Kissinger: My plane ran out of oil so will your majesty order it to get supplied with oil and we are ready to pay at international rates?
    King Faisal: And I'm an old man who wishes to pray in Al-Aqsa before I die so will you help me in my wish?
    • Henry Kissinger said in his memoirs that when he met King Faisal in Jeddah the king was sad, so he told a joke to King Faisal. King Faisal was unamused and responded to him. The information was found in the book, Years of Upheaval by Henry Kissinger (1982).
  • Be honey to those who seek your friendship, but deadly poison to those who dare attack you.[14]
  • You [Kissinger] must have noticed, nothing in this dinner tonight carries foreign mark. The meat on the table comes from locally hunted camels. The delicacies all made on Arab land, from Arab resources. The lamps that give us light tonight, burn on fuel extracted from camel fat. If you dare come here, we would set our wells on fire and wander into the deserts. We, as you see, would survive. What would you do?
    • The information was found in the book, Years of Upheaval by Henry Kissinger (1982).
  • The injustice and aggression inflicted on the Palestinian Arab people is unparalleled in history, even in the dark ages. An entire people has been displaced from their land and homeland to replace another people. The Arab States have appealed to the world's conscience for nearly a quarter of a century to realize the right and lift the injustice against them, but our pleas have not been heeded, forcing them to take up arms in defense of their rights, lands and sanctities.
    • On the occasion of US President Richard Nixon's visit to the Kingdom on 21 June 1974, Faisal bin Abdulaziz gave him his take on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.[15]

Quotes about

  • Despite the religious strictures the House of Saud had imposed on the country since the kingdom was founded, many of their subjects still felt that every year brought more modernity, more freedoms, however small. The push and pull between the royals and the clerics had been a constant in the relationship, determined by the personality of each king and his standing with the clerics. The king who had succeeded most in plying the religious establishment to his will was King Faisal, who ruled from 1964 until he was assassinated in 1975. He introduced television and education for girls despite the clerics’ protestations, and he sent emissaries well versed in matters of religion to reason with them. These were often members of the Muslim Brotherhood from Syria or Egypt who had fled repression in their countries and been embraced in the kingdom for their skills at building a modern state—they were often engineers but also educators, and they fanned across schools and universities in the kingdom.
    • Kim Ghattas Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (2020)
  • Austere and devout, a direct descendant of Ibn Abdelwahhab through his mother, King Faisal spent time in his maternal grandfather’s house participating in theological debates, and he “embraced the fundamentals of religion and norms of the shari’a according to the formulations of Ibn Abdel Wahhab.” His own father, King Abdelaziz, referred to Faisal as “the boy from the Al-ash-Sheikh family.” Above moral reproach, King Faisal could afford to push for those aspects of modernization he felt would benefit his country. The events of 1979 had frozen that courage in his successors, and the kings now kowtowed to religious forces. Juhayman had died, but his mission lived on. The impact was immediate and deeply felt in the provinces outside Najd, which Bin Baz had been trying so hard to discipline in the proper Wahhabi ways.
    • Kim Ghattas, Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (2020)
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