House of Saud

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The House of Saud (Arabic: آل سعود, translit. Āl Suʻūd IPA: [ʔaːl sʊʕuːd]) is the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia. It is composed of the descendants of Muhammad bin Saud, founder of the Emirate of Diriyah, known as the First Saudi state (1744–1818), and his brothers, though the ruling faction of the family is primarily led by the descendants of Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman, the modern founder of Saudi Arabia. The most influential position of the royal family is the King of Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarch. The family in total is estimated to comprise some 15,000 members; however, the majority of power, influence and wealth is possessed by a group of about 2,000 of them. Some estimates of the royal family's wealth measure their net worth at $1.4 trillion, this figure includes the market capitalization of Saudi Aramco the state oil & gas company and its vast assets in fossil fuel reserves.

Quotes about the House of Saud

  • Abdelaziz was the descendant of Muhammad ibn (son of) Saud, founder of the Al-Saud dynasty. From the deep interior of Najd, Abdelaziz brought with him two centuries of a particular brand of Islam that his ancestors had espoused in a political and familial alliance with one man: Muhammad ibn Abdelwahhab. Ultra-orthodox and fundamentalist, the eighteenth-century religious preacher led an exclusionary revivalist movement, following in the footsteps of others who had called for a return to the ways of the salaf, the ancestors, the first generation of Muslims. There were those Salafists who believed that following the righteous salaf, al-salaf al-saleh, dictated a return to the exact way of life of the prophet. In the early twentieth century, there would be modernist Salafists, such as the Egyptian Muhammad Abduh, who believed it was important to rid Islam of centuries of acquired traditions and accretions and return to the purity of prophet’s teachings, which actually provided the answers needed to adapt religion to modernity. Only after 9/11 did the term Salafist become known worldwide, used exclusively to denote the stricter outlook with Salafist jihadists resorting to violence to impose their views. In his days, Ibn Abdelwahhab was so extreme in his interpretations that he was regarded as an outcast by his contemporaries. The Ottomans were the first to describe it as Wahhabism, to denote a movement outside the mainstream of Islam, one that seemed intently focused on one man as though he were a kind of prophet.
    • Kim Ghattas Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (2020)
  • The Wahhabis, with the Al-Sauds as their standard-bearers, tolerated nothing that could come between man and his God: not the intercession of saints, not tombstones in cemeteries or visitation of the graves of loved ones, not even worship of the prophet—all of it was shirk. The dynasty had suffered serious reversals, including almost total annihilation and exile over two centuries, but the alliance between the House of Saud or Al-Sauds and the preacher, sealed in the desert in 1744, had persisted. The tomb of Eve became one of its victims. In 1975, what was left of the tomb was covered with concrete and lost in a large cemetery among hundreds of graves that looked like rows of empty, white concrete planters with paved pathways in between.
    • Kim Ghattas, Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (2020)
  • The case of Saudi Arabia highlights the difficulties that democracies face in trying to support freedom, human rights, and democracy. King Abdullah heads a royal family that completely controls Saudi society. Thanks to the fact that they own the world's largest reserves of oil, they are virtually immune from international criticism and they do not bother to hold even fake national elections. By law, all Saudi citizens must be Muslims. It is illegal for Saudis to follow a different religion. A Saudi woman cannot appear in public with a man who is not a relative. Women are required to completely cover their bodies in public and they must wear veils. Some Saudi women have expressed satisfaction with the restrictions in the country. However, the strict suppression of women is not voluntary, and Saudi women who would like to live a freer life are not allowed to do so. King Abdullah and his relatives follow an intolerant version of Islam known in the West as Wahhabism. Since 1975, the Saudi royal family has spent more than $70 billion financing mosques and Islamic centers worldwide, including more than $300 million in the United States, where most Muslims studying in Arabic use Saudi textbooks, some of which are virulently anti-Christian and anti-Jewish. If Saudi Arabia did not control so much oil, King Abdullah and the Saudi royal family would be treated just as much as pariahs as are Than Shwe and the Burmese generals.
    • David Wallechinsky, Tyrants: The World's 20 Worst Living Dictators (2006), p. 4
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