King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz, Reformer of Saudia
King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz
King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud remained King of Saudi Arabia from 1964 to 1975. He made a lot of reforms in his country during this era. As a head of state, Shah Faisal strengthen economy and implementing a policy of modernization. He successfully stabilized the kingdom’s bureaucracy, and his reign had significant popularity among Saudis. King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz was assassinated in 1975, by his nephew Faisal bin Musaid.
Early Life of King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz was third son of King Abdul Aziz. He was born in Riyadh (capital of Saudi Arabia) on 14 April 1906 . His mother was Tarfa bint Abdullah bin Abdul Latif. She died in 1912, when prince Faisal was quite young. Then he was brought up by his maternal grandfather. He visited UK and France with his father King Abdul Aziz and learnt many things by observing their way of governance.
As a Prince, Faisal bin Abdul Aziz was given responsibility to get control over Arabia. In 1922, Saudi forces get control of Hail and Asir, he was sent to these provinces to consolidate the grip of government. He achieved complete control over Asir at the end of the year. Saudi army won a decisive victory in the Hejaz in 1925 under the command of Prince Faisal.Prince Faisal became minister of foreign affairs In 1930. He visited Europe several times in this period, including Poland in 1932 and Russia in 1933.
In 1953, he was appointed Crown Prince of his elder brother, king Saud. After one year crown prince Faisal Bin Abdul Azid became the prime minister of Saudi Arabia. He also performed as governor of Hijaz and Foreign Minister as well.
Difference With King Saud
According to historians, crown prince Faisal was a reformer, who brought many reforms in every field of life. He was also working to unite the Islamic Ummah. On the other hand, king Masud acted as usual kings. In the result, a power struggle ensued between them, and on 18 December 1960, Prince Faisal resigned as prime minister in protest, arguing that King Saud was frustrating his financial reforms.
King Saud took back his executive powers and, having induced Prince Talal to return from Egypt, appointed him as minister of finance. In 1962, however, Prince Faisal rallied enough support within the royal family to install himself as prime minister for a second time. During this period, Faisal established his reputation as a reforming and modernizing figure. He introduced education for women and girls despite the consternation of many conservatives in the religious establishment. To appease the objectors he allowed the female educational curriculum to be written and overseen by members of the religious leadership, a policy which lasted long after his death. He established the first TV channel of Saudi Arabia in 1963.
How Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz became King?
The differences between two brothers increased with the passage of time, and struggle continued in the background. At last in early 1963, when king Saud gone abroad for his treatment, crown prince decided to take over. He took advantage of the absence of king and changed not only the Cabinet , but also removed many of Saud’s loyalists from their posts. Then he appointed like-minded princes in key military and security positions. Upon King Saud’s return, Prince Faisal demanded more authorities for him and asked him to continue his ceremonial role. Religious establishment was on the back of Faisal, who pressurised the king in this matter.
After the refusal, King Saud was relented and Prince Faisal was appointed regent on 4 March 1964. Later on with the interference of Ulma, King Saud was exiled and Prince Faisal was became king on 2 November 1964.
Reforms made by king Faisal
Shah Faisal continued the reforms for the restoration of the country’s finances. He pursued his conservative financial policies during the first few years of his reign, and his aims of balancing the country’s budget eventually succeeded, helped by an increase in oil production.
King Faisal ordered that all Saudi princes had to school their children (Aslo see Malala Yousafzai) inside the country. He also introduced the country’s current system of administrative regions, and laid the foundations for a modern welfare system. In 1970 he established the Ministry of Justice and inaugurated the country’s first “five-year plan” for economic development. In the same year, regular broadcasting of Saudi’s Television was started. Despite the opposition from conservative Saudis to his reforms, King Faisal continued to pursue modernization while always making sure to couch his policies in Islamic terms.
Shah Faisal, King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz acknowledged his country’s religious and cultural diversity, which includes the predominantly Shia Ahsa in the east; the Asir in the southwest, with tribal affinities to Yemen, especially among the Ismaili tribes of Najran and Jizan; and the Kingdom of the Hejaz, with its capital Mecca.
The role and authority of the ulema declined after the rise of King Faisal even though they had helped bring him to the throne in 1964. Unlike his successor, Shah Faisal attempted to ensure that the most radical clerics did not hold society’s most powerful religious posts. He tried to block extremist clerics from gaining dominion over religious institutions. King Faisal also played a good role for the Abolition of slavery. Serious actions against corruption were also taken by him.
Family Life of Shah Faisal
Shah Faisal was married four times. King Faisal spouses were from powerful families. His first wife, Sultana bint Ahmed Al Sudairi, was the mother of his eldest son Prince Abdullah, whom King Faisal fathered when he was just fifteen. From the Sudairi family, she was the younger sister of Hassa bint Ahmed who was the mother of the Sudairi brothers. His second, and most prominent, wife was Iffat Al-Thuniyyan. She was born and raised in Turkey and was a descendant of the Al Saud family.
Faisal’s third wife, whom he married in October 1935, was Al Jawhara bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Al Kabir, the daughter of his aunt, Nuora bint Abdul Rahman. With Jawhara, Faisal had a daughter, Munira. His fourth wife, who was the mother of Prince Khalid, was Haya bint Turki bin Abdul Aziz Al Turki, a member of the Al Jiluwi clan.
Shah Faisal’s eldest son Prince Abdullah, was born in 1922 and held some governmental positions for a while. Prince Khalid was the governor of Asir Province in southwestern Saudi Arabia for more than three decades before becoming governor of Makkah Province in 2007. Prince Saud was the Saudi foreign minister between 1975 and 2015. Prince Turki served as head of Saudi Intelligence, ambassador to the United Kingdom, and later ambassador to the United States.
Relations With Pakistan
Historically, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed a deep and longstanding bond based on their common geopolitical interests and a large number of expatriate Pakistani workers in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia has always stood with Pakistan to help the country whether it is political and economic crises.
It is said that after the creation of Pakistan, Arab merchants settled in Mumbai and Calcutta migrated to Pakistan, especially Karachi. In 1954, King Saud laid the foundation stone of a housing scheme in Karachi, then the capital of Pakistan and it was named after him as “Saudabad”. Shah Faisal was equally revered by the then Pakistani government and named a key Karachi artery, Shahrah-e-Faisal, and an airbase after him. Lyallpur, a city in central Punjab, was also named in his honor as Faisalabad.
It was three years after the 1965 war when Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, the then Saudi minister of defense and aviation, visited Pakistan and a bilateral defense cooperation protocol was formalized. During the 1970s, Saudi leadership responded to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s request for financial assistance in order to respond to India’s nuclear ambitions.
King Faisal Assassination
On 25 March 1975, King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz was assassinated by his nephew, Faisal bin Musaid, who had just come back from the United States. The murder occurred at a majlis.