Faisal of Saudi Arabia Biography

(King of Saudi Arabia from 1964 to 1975)

Birthday: April 9, 1906 (Aries)

Born In: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Faisal of Saudi Arabia was the King of Saudi Arabia from 1964 to 1975. Before his ascension to throne, he held positions of power long before his ascension to throne. As the third son of King Abdulaziz, he was given numerous responsibilities since he was a teenager. He was the first official member of the Saudi royalty to visit several European countries. He served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs during his father rule, and became the prime minister soon after his brother Prince Saud became the king. Known for his pan-Islamism, anti-communism and pro-Palestinian nationalism, Faisal supported Egypt during the Arab–Israeli War. He played a key role in the global oil crisis that increased oil prices, from which his country made huge profits. He is also known for ending slavery, introducing television broadcasts, denying absolute power to religious fanatics and making reforms to popularize women's education. He was assassinated by his nephew Faisal bin Musaid in 1975, after which his brother King Khalid ascended the throne.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Faisal bin Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman

Died At Age: 68


Spouse/Ex-: Fatima bint Abdulaziz bin Msheit, Haya bint Turki bin Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Turki Al Saud, Iffat Al-Thunayan (1932–1975), Jawhara bint Saud bin Abd al Aziz al Saud al Kabir (1935), Munira bint Suheim Al Thanian, Sultana bint Ahmed bin Muhammad Al-Sudairi

father: Ibn Saud

mother: Tarafa bint Abdullah Al Alsheikh

siblings: Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Fahd of Saudi Arabia, Fawwaz bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Haya bint Abdulaziz Al Saud, Khalid of Saudi Arabia, Mansour bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Mishaal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Mutaib bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Salman of Saudi Arabia, Sattam bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Saud of Saudi Arabia, Seeta bint Abdulaziz Al Saud, Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Turki I bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

children: Abdullah bin Faisal Al Saud, Abdulrahman bin Faisal Al Saud, Al Anoud bint Faisal Al Saud, Aljawhara bint Faisal Al Saud, Bandar bin Faisal Al Saud, Haifa bint Faisal, Hassa bint Faisal Al Saud, Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud, Latifa bint Faisal Al Saud, Lolowah bint Faisal Al Saud, Mohammed bin Faisal Al Saud, Munira bint Faisal Al Saud, Noura bint Faisal Al Saud, Saad bin Faisal bin Al Saud, Sara bint Faisal Al Saud, Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Turki bin Faisal Al Saud

Emperors & Kings Saudi Arabian Men

Died on: March 25, 1975

place of death: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Cause of Death: Assassination

City: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

More Facts

awards: Royal Victorian Chain

  • 1

    What is Faisal of Saudi Arabia known for?

    Faisal of Saudi Arabia is known for his role as the King of Saudi Arabia from 1964 to 1975, and his progressive reforms during his reign.

  • 2

    What was Faisal of Saudi Arabia's impact on the oil industry?

    Faisal of Saudi Arabia played a significant role in the establishment of OPEC and the nationalization of the Saudi oil industry, leading to increased control and profits for the country.

  • 3

    How did Faisal of Saudi Arabia contribute to modernization in Saudi Arabia?

    Faisal of Saudi Arabia introduced various modernization initiatives, including educational reforms, infrastructure development, and economic diversification efforts, to propel Saudi Arabia into the modern era.
  • 4

    What was the significance of Faisal of Saudi Arabia's foreign policy?

    Faisal of Saudi Arabia pursued a balanced foreign policy, maintaining strong ties with both Western powers and Arab countries, while also advocating for Palestinian rights and supporting Arab unity.
  • 5

    How did Faisal of Saudi Arabia approach Islamic affairs during his reign?

    Faisal of Saudi Arabia promoted a moderate and tolerant form of Islam, supported Islamic education and institutions, and sought to balance religious principles with modernization efforts in Saudi Arabia.
Childhood & Early Life
Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was born on April 14, 1906, in Riyadh in erstwhile Emirate of Nejd and Hasa. He was the son of King Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman ibn Faisal Al Saud and one of his wives, Tarfa bint Abdullah bin Abdullatif Al Sheikh, a descendant of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.
His father had married his mother after capturing Riyadh in 1902. His mother died six months after he was born, following which he was raised by his maternal grandmother. Faisal also had a full sister, Nurah.
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Early Political Activities
In 1919, when King Abdulaziz could not go to London following an invitation by the British government, he sent 13-year-old Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia to represent him at meetings with British officials. He spent months in Europe, visiting England and France, and became the first ever Saudi royal to pay official visits to both nations.
He helped his father in consolidating control over Arabia by leading a 3-month-long siege on Hail in 1922, and taking complete control over the Asir province with his 6000 fighters. In 1926, after his father took over the Hejaz region, including both Mecca and Medina, Faisal was appointed the viceroy of Hejaz.
He became the Minister of Foreign Affairs under his father's rule in 1930, and also served as the Speaker of the Shura (consultative) Council. Except for a two-year break between 1960 and 1962, he continued to oversee Saudi’s foreign policy until his assassination.
While in charge of Foreign Affairs, he travelled to Europe several times, including his visits to Poland in 1932 and Russia in 1933. In 1934, he led a successful campaign against Yemen during the Saudi–Yemeni War, which Saudi Arabia eventually won.
Crown Prince & Prime Minister
After the death of King Abdulaziz in November 1953, Prince Faisal's brother Prince Saud ascended the throne and Faisal became the crown prince. Despite the fact that Gamal Abdel Nasser had overthrown the monarchy in neighboring Egypt in 1952, the new King Saud undertook massive royal residence construction projects, hurting the public sentiments.
In 1958, sensing the tense environment in the country, senior royal family members and the ulema (religious leadership) asked King Saud to appoint Faisal as the Prime minister. He was bestowed with wide executive powers, but it initiated a power struggle between King Saud and Prince Faisal, who ultimately had to resign in December 1960.
The king took away Faisal’s executive powers and made Prince Talal, who had previously defected to Egypt as the leader of Free Princes Movement, the finance minister. Nevertheless, Prince Faisal was able to gain enough support from the royal members to regain his position as the prime minister in 1962.
As the Crown Prince, he helped establish the Islamic University of Madinah in 1961 and the Muslim World League, a worldwide charity funded by the royal family, in 1963. He established the country's first television station in 1963, even though actual broadcasts started two years later.
In 1962, he issued a decree, proclaiming total abolition of slavery, following which about 1,682 slaves were freed. Each of them costed the government $2,000. The issue of slavery was first raised by the US back in 1945 during a meeting between King Abdulaziz and Franklin D. Roosevelt, but was realized under John F. Kennedy.
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After King Saud left the country for medical reasons in early 1963, Faisal replaced many of his loyalists in key military and security positions with other like-minded princes. When King Saud returned, Faisal demanded to be made regent, reducing the king to a ceremonial role, which was supported by the ulema. The grand mufti issued a fatwā (edict) in his favor.
King Saud, who initially refused, was eventually forced to make Faisal the regent on March 4th, 1964. Later that year, senior royal family members and the ulema met and issued another fatwā, declaring that King Saud abdicate the throne in his brother's favor and forcing Saud to go in exile.
As the King of Saudi Arabia
Prince Faisal became the King of Saudi Arabia on November 2, 1964, and immediately issued an edict, forcing princes to study within the country. He introduced the current system of administrative regions in Saudi, established the Ministry of Justice in 1970, and declared a five-year economic development plan.
In the wake of numerous coups d'état in the region, including Muammar al-Gaddafi's coup in Libya, King Faisal built a sophisticated security structure. He firmly cracked down dissent and justified his actions in Islamic terms. In summer of 1969, he spoiled an alleged military coups d'état by ordering the arrest of hundreds of military officers, including generals.
He supported the pan-Islamic movement, held a pluralist view and made cautious inclusive reforms. He dismissed the opposition from the ulema on subjects like women’s education. Despite the fact that he came to power with full support from the ulema, he curbed his power and influence, and took initiatives to prevent radical clerics from occupying significant political positions.
King Faisal deemed communism and Islam to be incompatible and avoided political ties with the Soviet Union. Just like his father, he strengthened his country’s bond with the US, and let them train and arm his forces.
In September 1969, he convened a conference in Rabat, Morocco, attended by leaders of 25 Muslim states, where he called for Israel to give up territory conquered in 1967. It led to the establishment of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which pledged support for the Palestinians.
He grew close to Egypt's new president Anwar Sadat, whom he supported in the 1973 Arab–Israeli War. He showed his support by withdrawing Saudi oil from world markets to protest Western support for Israel. Saudi later made massive profits from the ensuing oil crisis, earning him a lasting prestige among Arabs and Muslims worldwide.
King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was shot point-blank by his half-brother's son Faisal bin Musaid at a majlis upon the latter's return from the US. He was shot twice in addition to being attacked with a sheathed sword. He passed away after being taken to the hospital.
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It is generally believed that his attacker wanted to revenge him for the death of his brother, Prince Khalid bin Musaid who had died while leading an attack on a television station in 1966. However, others opine that King Faisal was assassinated by Western agencies due to his oil boycott.
Prince Faisal bin Musaid was initially declared insane. He was later convicted for regicide and was beheaded at a public square in Riyadh. King Faisal's body was buried in Al Oud cemetery in Riyadh on March 26, 1975.
Major Works
King Faisal of Saudi Arabia is best known for his modernization and reform policies, which included building a more sophisticated military, curbing the power of Islamic religious officials and advocating women's education.
His foreign policy was marked by pan-Islamism, anti-communism, and pro-Palestinian nationalism, which led to him criticizing the Western support of Israel in the 1973 war.
His oil boycott from global markets led to an oil crisis that fed the Saudi economy for generations.
Time magazine named King Faisal its 'Man of the Year' in 1974, following the oil crisis that made Saudi affluent.
Facts About Faisal of Saudi Arabia
Faisal of Saudi Arabia was known for his love of falconry and was an avid falconer, often participating in traditional hunting expeditions with falcons.
He was a strong advocate for modernization in Saudi Arabia and implemented various reforms during his reign, including improvements in education and infrastructure.
Faisal was a polyglot, fluent in Arabic, English, and French, which allowed him to communicate effectively with leaders from around the world.
He had a passion for gardening and was known to spend time tending to the royal gardens, where he cultivated a variety of plants and flowers.
Faisal was also a music enthusiast and was known to appreciate classical music, often attending performances and supporting local musicians.
Family & Personal Life
King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was married to Sultana bint Ahmed Al Sudairi from the Sudairi family. He became the father of Prince Abdullah at the age of 15.
He later met Iffat Al-Thunayan in Istanbul during an official visit to Turkey in 1932 and married her the same year. She gave birth to their nine children, including Prince Mohammed, Prince Saud and Prince Turki. She was thought to be behind his women-centric reforms.
He married his cousin Al Jawhara bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Al Kabir in 1935, from whom he had daughter Munira. He fathered Prince Khalid with Haya bint Turki bin Abdulaziz Al Turki, a member of the Al Jiluwi clan.

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