The Saudi Royal Family Biography (2002) Biography Channel

The Saudi Royal Family

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Documentary Description

At a time when America's relationship with Saudi Arabia is under close scrutiny because of the war against terrorism, this timely profile looks at the colourful history of Saudi Arabia's royal rulers. Discover how charismatic King Ibn Saud went from being a desert warrior to leader of the largest oil-producing nation in the world, and how his 4 successors have been both friends and foes of the U.S.

The House of Saud is the royal family of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The modern nation of Saudi Arabia was established in 1931, though the roots and influence for the House of Saud had been planted in the Arabian Peninsula several centuries earlier. Prior to the era of the Kingdom's founder, Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud, the family had ruled the Nejd and had conflicted on several occasions with the Ottoman Empire, the Sharif of Mecca, and the Al Rashid family of Ha'il. The House of Saud has gone through three phases: the First Saudi State, the Second Saudi State, and the modern nation of Saudi Arabia.

The history of the Al Saud has been marked by a desire to unify the Arabian Peninsula and to spread what it promotes as a more purified and simple view of Islam. The House of Saud is linked with (Hanbali) Wahhabism (Saudis deprecate the term, preferring the term Salafism) through the marriage of the son of Muhammad ibn Saud with the daughter of Muhammad Abd al Wahhab in 1744.

Though some have put the family's numbers as high as 25,000, most estimates place their numbers in the region of 7,000, with most power and influence being wielded by the 200 or so descendants of King Abdul Aziz.

The current head of the Al Saud and ruler of Saudi Arabia is King Abdullah ibn Abdul Aziz who announced, on 20 October 2006, the creation of a committee of princes to vote on the viability of kings and the candidature of nominated crown princes - in effect, clarifying and further defining the Al Saud's line of succession process. The committee, known as the Allegiance Commission, and chaired by Prince Mishaal ibn Abdul Aziz, gives each son (in case of their inability or death, their eligible son) of the late King Abdul-Aziz a single vote which would be used to confirm one of three princes nominated by the king to be named Crown Prince. In the event that either the sitting king or the crown prince were deemed unfit to rule, a five-member transitory council, appointed by the Council, would be empowered to run state affairs for one week before naming a successor. The intent is to prevent a situation as was the case with the late King Fahd, who suffered multiple strokes beginning in 1995 but remained on the throne for ten years, most of them without the faculties to rule.

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