Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud (Saudi Arabia)
King Faisal assumed the throne on 2 Nov. 1964, having a few months earlier been named as regent. He effectively deposed his brother, Saud, who had ruled since the death of their father in 1953. Faisal’s reign oversaw the beginnings of the Kingdom’s dramatic economic restructuring based on oil revenues. It also witnessed the further deterioration of the Arab-Israeli dispute and the emergence of the ‘oil weapon’ in international diplomacy.
Faisal was born in Riyadh in 1906, the son of the dynastic founder Abdulaziz Al-Saud. Influential in his father’s military conquest of the Hejaz region in the mid-1920s, he became viceroy of the province in 1925. Upon the formal establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Faisal was appointed foreign minister in 1932. In 1953, when his brother Saud became king, he was declared Crown Prince and continued as foreign minister. He later served as prime minister from 1958–60 and from 1962 onwards. As an advocate of modernization and, to some extent, westernization, Faisal came into conflict with the more conservative Saud.
In Nov. 1964 Saud was forced to abdicate in Faisal’s favour. As King and prime minister, Faisal instituted a programme of economic modernization, using the Kingdom’s increasing oil production revenues. In 1970 he initiated the first of the 5 year economic development programmes. Over that same period, financial support was given to other Arab states in their conflict with Israel. The Oct. 1973 Arab-Israeli war heralded an oil crisis in which Arab producers, including Saudi Arabia, cut supplies to the United States and other western countries leading to a fourfold increase in oil prices. However, Faisal subsequently adopted a more conciliatory stance than more radical OPEC members and the close Saudi economic relationship with the US was preserved (and reinforced with a co-operation agreement in 1974). In March 1975 Faisal was assassinated by a nephew, who was reportedly mentally unstable, and his half-brother Khalid became king.