Salman, the 25th son of King Abdulaziz
, was the deputy governor of Riyadh
and later the governor of Riyadh for 48 years from 1963 to 2011. He was then appointed Minister of Defense. He was named the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
in 2012. Salman became king in 2015 upon the death of his half-brother, King Abdullah
. Since December 2019, he is the oldest surviving son of King Abdulaziz.
Salman was born on 31 December 1935, and is reported to be the 25th son of King Abdulaziz, the first monarch and founder of Saudi Arabia.
Salman and his six full brothers make up the Sudairi Seven
He was raised in the Murabba Palace
Salman received his early education at the Princes' School
in the capital city of Riyadh
, a school established by King Abdulaziz specifically to provide education for his children.
He studied religion and modern science.
Governor of Riyadh
Salman was appointed deputy governor of Riyadh Province
on 17 March 1954, aged 19, and held the post until 19 April 1955.
He was appointed the provincial governor on 5 February 1963,
and remained in that office until 5 November 2011.
As governor, he contributed to the development of Riyadh
from a mid-sized town into a major urban metropolis. He served as an important liaison to attract tourism, capital projects, and foreign investment to his country. He favored political and economic relationships with the West.
During his governorship, Salman recruited advisors from King Saud University
During Salman's five decades as Riyadh governor, he became adept at managing the delicate balance of clerical, tribal, and princely interests that determine Saudi policy.
He was also the chairman of the King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives (KAFRA),
King Abdulaziz Museum,
the Prince Salman Center for Disability Research
and the Prince Fahd bin Salman Charitable Society for the Care of Kidney Patients.
According to the Washington Post
, Saudi journalist the late Jamal Khashoggi
"criticized Prince Salman, then governor of Riyadh and head of the Saudi committee for support to the Afghan mujahideen
, for unwisely funding Salafist
extremist groups that were undermining the war [in Afghanistan against the Soviets]."
Under Salman, Riyadh became one of the richest cities in the Middle East and an important place for trade and commerce. There were also infrastructural advances including schools, universities, and sports stadiums.
About the province, he said:
Every village or town in the Riyadh Region is dear to me, and holds a special place in my heart ... I witnessed every step taken by the city of Riyadh, and for this reason, it is difficult for me to think about being far away from Riyadh.
Second in line
Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz meeting with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
in Riyadh, 9 December 2013
It is speculated that he was placed in the immediate line of succession due to his personal qualities. First, he has a conciliatory and diplomatic nature. He headed the family council, called The Descendants' Council (Majlis al Uthra
in Arabic), that was established by King Fahd in 2000 to solve family matters, reach consensus and try to avoid any publicly embarrassing behaviour by some family members.
Second, Salman belongs to the "middle generation" in the royal family; therefore, he could develop close ties with both generations socially and culturally. Last, as a result of his long-term governorship, he had developed a network of relationships within Arab and international circles.
Salman continued the policy of military intervention in Bahrain
. In April 2012, Salman visited both the United States and the United Kingdom where he met with US President Barack Obama
and British Prime Minister David Cameron
2013 saw Saudi military spending climb to $67bn, overtaking that of the UK, France and Japan to place fourth globally.
As defense minister, Salman was head of the military as Saudi Arabia joined the United States and other Arab countries in carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in 2014.
Crown Prince Salman meeting US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
, 23 April 2013
On 18 June 2012, Salman was appointed as Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
shortly after the death of his brother, Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz
Prince Salman was also made First Deputy Prime minister.
His nomination as crown prince and deputy prime minister was seen by some as a signal that King Abdullah's cautious reforms were likely to continue.
On the other hand, Saudi reformists stated that while Prince Salman, in contrast to other Saudi royals, took a more diplomatic approach towards them, he could not be considered a political reformer.
They also argued that, like King Abdullah, Salman focused mainly on economic improvement rather than political change.
On 27 August 2012, the Royal Court announced that Salman was in charge of state affairs whilst King Abdullah was out of the country.
Prince Salman launched a Twitter
account on 23 February 2013.
In September 2012, Salman was named as the deputy chairman of the military service council.
He is a strong advocate for philanthropy
in poor Muslim nations such as Somalia
, and Afghanistan
King of Saudi Arabia
US President Barack Obama
shakes hands with King Salman, Riyadh, 27 January 2015
On 23 January 2015, Salman, aged 79, inherited the throne after his half-brother Abdullah died of pneumonia
at the age of 90. The new king issued a statement which read "His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and all members of the family and the nation mourn Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who passed away at exactly 1 am this morning." He appointed his younger half-brother, Muqrin bin Abdulaziz
, as Crown Prince.
In February 2015, he received Prince Charles
during his six-day tour in the Middle East. They "exchanged cordial talks and reviewed bilateral relations" between the countries.
In April 2021, Prince Mishaal bin Majid Al Saud
, who has been the governor of Jeddah since 1997, was appointed as adviser to King Salman with the rank of minister.
One of the first things the King and his son, Mohammad bin Salman, did was to streamline the government bureaucracy. On the death of King Abdullah, there were as many as eleven government secretariats, and all of these were abolished and reconstituted as only two, the Council of Political and Security Affairs
(CPSA), headed by Deputy Crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef
, and the Council for Economic and Development Affairs
(CEDA), headed by the Secretary-General of the Royal Court, Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who was given free rein to completely reorganize the government
and cementing the power of the Sudairi faction, to which both princes belong.
Yemen military intervention
In March 2015, the king ordered the bombing of Yemen and military intervention
against the ShiaHouthis
and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh
, who was deposed in the 2011 uprising.
He first put together a coalition of ten Sunni Muslim
countries. Code-named Operation Decisive Storm, this was the first time the Saudi Air Force
had launched airstrikes against another country since the 1990–91 Gulf War.
According to Farea Al-Muslim
, direct war crimes
have been committed during the conflict; for example, an IDP
camp was hit by a Saudi airstrike. Human Rights Watch
(HRW) wrote that the Saudi-led air campaign had conducted airstrikes in apparent violation of the laws of war
Human rights groups have also criticized Saudi Arabia for the alleged use of cluster bombs against Yemeni civilians.
Crown Prince changes
King Salman's nephew Muhammad bin Nayef
(left) became Crown Prince in 2015. In 2017, the King issued a royal decree that removed Muhammad bin Nayef as Crown Prince and appointed one of his sons, Mohammed bin Salman
, to the position.
In April 2015, three months after becoming king, Salman appointed a full nephew, Muhammad bin Nayef, as the new Crown Prince to replace his youngest brother Prince Muqrin
. Furthermore, he made his son, Mohammed bin Salman, the Deputy Crown Prince. Almost all powers under the king were concentrated in the hands of the crown prince and deputy crown prince, both of whom held the portfolio determining all security and economic development issues in Saudi Arabia.
King Salman then removed Muhammad bin Nayef from the line of succession to the Saudi throne on 21 June 2017 and designated his son Muhammad bin Salman as the new crown prince.
At the same time, King Salman removed Muhammad bin Nayef from his other positions in the Saudi government.
Mohammad bin Salman has been described as the power behind the throne
In May 2015 the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid (KSRelief) was established to deliver aid internationally to victims of civil war and natural disaster, working with the UN and other agencies. As of June 2018, KSRelief has implemented more than 400 individual projects in 40 countries at a cost of $1.8 billion.
Moreover, in 2018, KSRelief assisted 180,555 Syrian patients living in Zataari
Syrian refugees camp in Jordan
In 2019, KSRelief signed a memorandum of cooperation with UNICEF
that aims at enhancing cooperation in the humanitarian field, exchanging knowledge, sharing experiences, promoting voluntary work and boosting capacity building programs.
Until 2019, the center provided 1,839 Yemeni civilians wounded during the war with prosthetic limbs for a total amount of $2.3 million.
In its ongoing efforts to support the people of Yemen, KSRelief organized a vocational training program to train women in Yemen
to enable them to earn money for themselves and their families.
In a similar context, under the umbrella of the UN, KSRelief has led an international team to implement a rehabilitation project for the children affected by war in Yemen.
Moreover, as part of the 40th session of the UN Human Rights' Council, KSRelief organized an event entitled: Children and the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen where it presented a number of facts and figures related to the amount of assistance provided by the center to the people of Yemen. This includes the implementation of 328 projects for an amount of $2 billion.
Furthermore, in 2018 alone KSRelief provided medical services to 2,501,897 Yemenis.
In 2019, KSrelief signed a number of agreements with different civil society organizations to implement relief projects for the benefit of Palestinian and Syrian refugees as well as the host Lebanese community. An agreement was concluded with the UNHCR to support the families affected by war for an amount of $5 million. Another one was concluded with IOM to help Syrian refugees under the poverty line for an amount of $3.8 million.
In February 2012, Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr
was arrested for participating in, and encouraging, pro-democracy
protests, when he was 16 or 17 years old. In May 2014, Ali Al-Nimr was sentenced to be executed, despite the minimum age for execution being 18 when a crime is committed.
Ali Al-Nimr has reported that he was tortured during his detention. As of 23 September 2015, the sentence awaited ratification by King Salman.
In February 2015, a man from Hafar Al-Batin
was sentenced to death for rejecting the religion of Islam.
In June 2015, Saudi Arabia's Supreme Court upheld the sentence of 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for Raif Badawi
, a Saudi Arabian blogger who was imprisoned in 2012 after being charged for 'insulting Islam'.
In April 2020, the Saudi Supreme Court stated under a royal decree made by King Salman that minors who commit crimes will no longer face execution, but would be sentenced to imprisonment in a juvenile detention facility for a maximum of 10 years.
Iran and Syria
King Salman meeting the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi
, 16 November 2015.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter
met with the King and his Arabian military counterpart, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, at Jeddah to answer regional security concerns in the Kingdom and the Gulf states over lifting Iranian economic and conventional military sanctions as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
outlines. The King has misgivings over the deal since it would increase the regional power of Iran especially in the proxy conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere.
In January 2016, Saudi Arabia executed the prominent Saudi Shia
cleric Sheikh Nimr
Iran warned that the House of Saud would pay a high price for the execution of Sheikh Nimr by God's will.
In May 2019, leaders of Gulf and Arab states held two emergency summits in Mecca to present a united front to Iran.
Salman accused Iran of threatening global oil supplies and shipping at a meeting of Arab leaders that called on the international community to confront Tehran following attacks on shipping and rising tensions in the oil-rich region.
Salman said "what the Iranian regime is doing, from intervening in regional countries’ affairs and developing its nuclear program, threatening global maritime traffic and global oil supplies, is a blatant violation of the treaties and principles of the United Nations." He urged the international community should "use all means to deter this regime."
Panama Papers revelations
King Salman has been implicated in the Panama Papers
leaks, with two companies originating in the British Virgin Islands
taking mortgages in excess of US$34 million to purchase property in central London
. His role has not been specified.
The then-Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef has also been named
in association with the Papers.
Further government reforms took place in June 2018, when King Salman replaced the labor and Islamic affairs ministers.
The appointment as labor minister of Ahmed al-Rajhi, a businessman, signalled a growing role for private sector expertise in the Saudi government.
The new minister for Islamic affairs, Abdullatif al-Alsheikh, had previously been credited with reining in the power of the religious police.
At the same time King Salman ordered the establishment of a new Ministry of Culture, with responsibility for delivering Saudi Vision 2030's cultural goals; and the Council of Royal Reserves, tasked with environmental protection.
Salman was often a mediator in settling royal conflicts among the extended Al Saud family – estimated at 4,000 princes. He was a prominent figure of the royal council, which allowed him to select which princes would be delegated which responsibilities of the Kingdom.
Salman and his family own a media group, including pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat
and Al Eqtisadiah
Though he owns only ten percent of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group
(SRMG), he is often referred by auditors as its owner.
He reportedly controlled the organization through his son Prince Faisal,
who is a former chairman of the concern. The SRMG publishes such daily papers as Arab News
, Asharq Al-Awsat
and Al Eqtisadiah
through its subsidiary Saudi Research and Publishing Company (SRPC).
Prince Salman takes part in the traditional Saudi Ardha dance in the 1960s.
In a similar vein, Salman is reported to have some strong alliances with significant journalists. He is said to be close to Al Arabiya
TV director and Asharq Al-Awsat
journalist Abdelrahman Al Rashid and to Othman Al Omeir
, who launched and is the owner of the liberal e-newspaper Elaph
. King Salman is thought to have connections with the Elaph
Salman holds traditional views with regard to political reforms and social change.
In November 2002, in reference to charitable organizations accused of terrorism (e.g. al-Haramain Foundation
, Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia and Herzegovina
), he stated that he had personally taken part in the activities of such organizations,
but added "I know the assistance goes to doing good. But if there are those who change some work of charity into evil activities, then it is not the Kingdom's responsibility, nor its people, which helps its Arab and Muslim brothers around the world."
referred to Salman's views reported in a 2007 US diplomatic cable
Salman said that "the pace and extent of reforms depend on social and cultural factors, ... that for social reasons—not [religious] reasons—reforms cannot be imposed by the [Saudi government] or there will be negative reactions, ... [and] that changes have to be introduced in a sensitive and timely manner." According to the cable, he said that "democracy should not be imposed" in Saudi Arabia, since the country "is composed of tribes and regions and if democracy were imposed, each tribe and region would have its political party."
Salman in his youth
His eldest son, Fahd bin Salman, died of heart failure
aged 47 in July 2001.
His third son, Ahmad bin Salman, died after a heart attack
in July 2002 aged 43.
Sultan bin Salman became the first person of royal blood, the first-ever Arab
, and the first Muslim
to fly in outer space when he flew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery
) in June 1985.
Sultan bin Salman is currently the chairman of the Saudi Space Commission.
Prince Sultan bin Salman was formerly the chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities
(SCTA), which later was changed to be the ministry of Tourism.
Abdulaziz bin Salman has been the deputy minister of oil since 1995, then the minister of Energy since 2019.
Faisal bin Salman is the governor of Madinah province
His child from his second marriage with Sarah bint Faisal Al Subai'ai is Prince Saud
. His children from his third marriage with Fahda bint Falah bin Sultan Al Hathleen
are Prince Mohammed, Prince Turki
, Prince Khalid
, Prince Nayif, Prince Bandar, and Prince Rakan.
Prince Mohammad was his private adviser at the Ministry of Defense and at the Crown Prince Court.
He was appointed as the minister of defense and head of the royal court upon his father's accession to the throne in January 2015.
Turki bin Salman became the chairman of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group in February 2013, replacing his elder brother Faisal bin Salman.
Salman was the closest brother to Crown Prince Sultan
, having remained at his side during his constant illness and recovery in New York
, from 2008 to 2011.
Prince Sultan described him as "the prince of loyalty" in a letter sent to him.
Salman was also King Fahd's most trusted adviser during his reign.
U.S. intelligence officials believe that King Salman has been kept apart from his wife Princess Fahda bint Falah Al Hathleen for several years, on the orders of their son Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
He was reportedly concerned that she opposed his plans for a power grab that could divide the royal family, and might have tried to prevent it. The officials interviewed said the prince placed his mother under house arrest
without the king's knowledge.
Salman received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Al-Turath Charity Foundation in the field of urban heritage in 2013.
In 2017, Salman pledged US$15,000,000 for Rohingya Muslim
refugees in Bangladesh
In July 2020, King Salman underwent successful gallbladder surgery.
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Last edited on 6 May 2021, at 04:28
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