Khalid of Saudi Arabia

Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Arabic: خالد بن عبد العزيز آل سعود Khālid ibn ‘Abd al ‘Azīz Āl Su‘ūd; 13 February 1913  13 June 1982) was King of Saudi Arabia from 1975 to 1982.[3] His reign saw both huge developments in the country due to increase in oil revenues and significant events in the Middle East.

Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
King of Saudi Arabia
Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia
Reign25 March 1975  13 June 1982
Bay'ah25 March 1975
Born13 February 1913
Riyadh, Emirate of Nejd and Hasa
Died13 June 1982(1982-06-13) (aged 69)
Ta’if, Saudi Arabia
Burial13 June 1982
Al Jawhara
Al Bandari
Full name
Khalid bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah bin Mohammad bin Saud
Arabicخالد بن عبد العزيز آل سعود
HouseHouse of Saud
FatherIbn Saud
MotherAl Jawhara bint Musaed bin Jiluwi bin Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Saud[1][2]

Early life

Khalid was born in Riyadh on 13 February 1913.[4][5] He was the fifth son of Ibn Saud.[6][7] His mother, Al Jawhara bint Musaed Al Jiluwi,[2][8] was from the important Al Jiluwi clan[9] whose members intermarried with Al Sauds.[10]

Khalid had one full-brother, Prince Muhammad.[11] His full sister, Al Anoud, married to the sons of Sa'ad bin Abdul Rahman. She first married Saud bin Saad. After Saud died, she married Fahd bin Saad.[12]

Early experience

Aged 14, Khalid bin Abdulaziz was sent by Ibn Saud as his representative to the desert tribes to hear their concerns and problems.[5] In 1932, Prince Khalid was named as viceroy of the Hejaz, replacing Prince Faisal in the post, who was named minister of foreign affairs. Prince Khalid's term as viceroy of Hejaz lasted until 1934.[13] Prince Khalid joined the Saudi army led by his older brother Prince Faisal and fought against Yemeni forces in 1934.[5] After the war, Prince Khalid served as the chairman of the Saudi delegation at the Taif Conference with Yemen in 1934.[14] This was a diplomatic move that led to the Taif Treaty later that year.[14]

Then he was named interior minister in 1934[13] and was the Saudi representative at the peace negotiations. In 1939, he participated in the St. James Conference on Palestine in London as an assistant to Prince Faisal, head of the Saudi delegation.[5][14][15] Prince Khalid's preparation for ruling a modern state started through his visits with Prince Faisal on foreign missions, representing Saudi Arabia at the United Nations.[9] Prince Khalid served as advisor of him.[14] Prince Khalid became an international figure as a result of his visits and service as Saudi representative.[14] He was more liberal in informing the press about the rationale behind foreign policy decisions.[9]

In September 1943, Prince Faisal and Prince Khalid were invited to the United States, and then-Vice President Henry A. Wallace organized a dinner for them at the White House.[16] They also met the US President Franklin Roosevelt.[17][18] They stayed at the official government guest house, Blair House, during their visit and visited the West Coast by a special train that was officially provided by the US government.[16] A foreign diplomat described Prince Khalid during this period as "probably nicest man in Saudi Arabia."[19]

In 1962, Prince Khalid was appointed deputy prime minister, indicating his prominence in the line of succession.[20][21] During the rivalry between King Saud and Prince Faisal, Prince Khalid supported the latter together with other princes who were members of Al Jiluwi branch of Al Saud through maternal lineage or marriage.[22] The group was led by Prince Mohammed, Prince Khalid and Prince Abdullah, who had married a woman from Al Jiluwi clan.[22]

Crown prince

Khalid bin Abdulaziz was named Crown Prince in 1965 to succeed King Faisal[23] after Khalid's older full-brother Prince Muhammad declined a place in the succession.[24][25] Prince Khalid was also appointed first deputy prime minister.[14][26] His main task was to govern all organisational and executive powers of the Council of Ministers. He also dealt with the affairs of the Governorate of Mecca on behalf of King Faisal.[14] Crown Prince Khalid was not active in daily issues, but acted as a representative during King Faisal's absences in meetings or ceremonies.[20] According to the declassified US diplomatic documents of 1971, he enjoyed the support of the tribal chiefs, religious authorities and of Prince Abdullah, head of the National Guard, during this period.[27]

One of the speculations about Prince Khalid's selection as heir designate was his lack of predilection for politics. In short, by selecting him as heir designate the royal family could create intra-familial consensus.[28]


Khalid succeeded to the throne on 25 March 1975 when King Faisal was assassinated.[29][30] He was proclaimed king after a meeting of five senior members of Al Saud: his uncle Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman and his elder brothers Prince Mohammed, Prince Nasser, Prince Saad and younger brothers Prince Fahd and Prince Abdullah.[31][32] The meeting occurred just hours after the assassination of King Faisal.[20] King Khalid also became the de facto prime minister of Saudi Arabia.[33]

Although there are various reports stating that King Khalid was only a figurehead during his reign, he was in fact not a figurehead, but the final decision-maker on all major policy issues during his reign[34] because King Faisal established a system in which the king was the final mediator in family problems.[35]

On the other hand, King Khalid was not an effective leader.[32] Although he seemed to be reluctant to rule the country initially, he later warmed to the throne and displayed an apparent interest in improving the education, health-care and infrastructure of the country during his seven-year reign.[36] King Khalid is also considered to have been a genial caretaker during his reign.[37] However, King Khalid failed to monopolize the power during his reign, leading to the empowerment of the princes who had been in powerful posts in late King Faisal's reign.[38] He had some personal characteristics that made him a respected king. Although he did not have an active interest in affairs of state and his health was not good, he was admired as an honest man who managed to have good relations with the traditional establishment of Saudi Arabia.[32] Therefore, he was granted support by other princes and powerful forces of the country.[32]

Domestic affairs

King Khalid's reign was of massive development in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, Saudi Arabia became one of the richest countries. He primarily dealt with domestic affairs with special focus on agricultural development.[33] The industrial cities of Jubail and Yanbu (now huge complexes) were created in his reign.[39][40] However, Simon Henderson argues that his period was, as can be expected, undynamic.[41] On the other hand, the number of schools increased during his reign. In 1975, there were 3,028 elementary schools, 649 secondary schools and 182 high schools. In 1980, there were 5,373 elementary, 1,377 secondary and 456 high schools.[42] The other significant development in the field of education during his reign was the establishment of King Faisal University.[14]

The strict financial policies of late King Faisal, coupled with the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis, created a financial windfall that fueled development and led to a commercial and economic boom in the country. Notable achievements in his reign included the institution of the second "Five-Year Plan" in 1975, which aimed to build up Saudi infrastructure and health care.[13] King Khalid also launched the Kingdom's third Development Plan with the planned budget of $250 billion in May 1980.[36][43]

The political power consolidation of the ruling family was intensified during his reign.[44] In a reorganization of the council of ministers in March 1975, King Khalid named then-crown prince Fahd deputy prime minister and Prince Abdullah second deputy prime minister.[45] Appointment of Prince Fahd as both crown prince and first deputy prime minister made him much powerful figure in contrast to the status of King Khaled when he was crown prince under King Faisal reign.[46]

The ministry of municipal and rural affairs was established in 1975, and Prince Majid was appointed minister.[22] Additionally, Prince Mutaib was appointed minister of public works and housing that was also established by King Khalid in 1975.[47] These two appointments were a move to reduce the power of Sudairi Seven in the cabinet.[22] King Khalid also appointed Prince Saud as the foreign affairs minister in March 1975.[48] Additionally, the ministry of industry and electricity was founded by King Khalid.[14] His elder brother Prince Mohammad was one of his key advisors.[45] In fact, they acted together on almost all political issues.[20]

He and Crown Prince Fahd relied less on technocrats and recentralized state apparatus. They further evidenced a marked preference for Nejdis, reversing King Faisal's close links with Hejazis. And ulema successfully pressed King Khalid to realize their intentions.[49]

Some foreign observers thought traditionalism was no longer a strong force in Saudi Arabia. This idea was disproved when at least 500 dissidents invaded and seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca on 20 November 1979.[50] When the first news of the attack in Mecca reached Riyadh, the initial reaction of King Khalid was to consult the ulama, in order to get permission to use military force to eject the attackers. The ulama hesitated and refrained from a definite answer.[50] Only after the assault had been underway for 36 hours did some ulama allow the use of force.[50] At the time of the event, Crown Prince Fahd was in Tunisia for a meeting of the Arab Summit and then commander of National Guard Prince Abdullah was in Morocco for an official visit. Therefore, King Khalid assigned the responsibility to Prince Sultan, then minister of defense and Prince Nayef, then minister of interior, to deal with the incident.[51]

After regaining the mosque, 63 rebels were executed on 9 January 1980 in eight different cities.[52] The executions were decreed by King Khalid after the edict issued by ulemas.[52] Although the Saudi government under King Khalid executed the rebels, the religious establishment that inspired them were given greater powers.[53]

In 1979, the Shiite minority in the Eastern Province organized protests and several demonstrators were arrested. They were freed in 1980. After releasing the demonstrators, King Khalid and Crown Prince Fahd visited the Eastern region from town to town.[54] Saudi Arabia acquired full control of Aramco in 1980 during his reign.[29]

International relations

Although King Khalid did not have an extensive interest in foreign affairs as much as King Faisal had,[35] his reign witnessed many important international events, including the Iranian Revolution, the assassination of Anwar Sadat and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, all of which had significant effects for Saudi Arabia.[55] Kamal Adham was his key counsellor on foreign policy during his reign from 1975 to 1982.[56][57]

In April 1975, his first diplomatic coup was the conclusion of a demarcation agreement concerning the Al Buraymi Oasis, where the frontiers of Abu Dhabi, Oman and Saudi Arabia meet.[30] Claims and counterclaims over this frontier had exacerbated relations among them for years. Therefore, King Khalid aimed at settling this long-standing boundary disputes.[33] The conclusion of negotiations under King Khalid added to his stature as a statesman.[13]

King Khalid visited Damascus in December 1975 and met with then-Syrian President Hafez al-Assad to discuss the ways to support Muslims in Lebanon that began to experience civil war.[35] He declared the Saudi Arabia's support to Syria's role in the war.[58]

In April 1976, King Khalid made state visits to all of the Gulf states in the hope of promoting closer relations with his peninsular neighbors.[13] He also called numerous summits and inaugurated the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 1981 that is seen an outcome of his early visits.[13][29] Then GCC was established along with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.[29]

Following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, King Khalid sent Khomeini a congratulatory message, stating that "Islamic solidarity" could be the basis for closer relations of two countries.[59] He also argued that with the foundation of the Islamic Republic in Iran there were no obstacles that inhibited the cooperation between two countries.[60] However, his initiative was unsuccessful, leading to Saudi's unofficial support for Iraq against Iran in the Iran–Iraq War in 1980.[59]

In April 1980, King Khalid cancelled the state visit to Britain as a protest over the broadcasting of Death of a Princess, that narrated the execution of Misha'al bin Fahd, the granddaughter of Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz.[61] King Khalid had been invited by Queen Elizabeth II in June 1979,[61] following the Queen's visit to Saudi Arabia in February 1979, during which King Khalid gave her a diamond necklace.[62] The visit that had been cancelled in 1980 was realized on 9 June 1981 for four days.[63] Upon meeting then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Saudi Arabia in April 1981,[64] King Khalid is reputed to have said he would be happy to discuss falcons with her, but for all matters of administration she should talk to Crown Prince Fahd.[41][65]

King Khalid asked then-U.S. president Carter to sell advanced fighter planes to Saudi Arabia to assist in countering communist aggression in the area.[66] The delivery of the first of sixty F-15s under the agreement approved by Carter arrived in the Kingdom in 1982. He purchased a Boeing 747 with an operating room should he be stricken while on his travels.[66] King Khalid initiated the move to bring in foreign labor to help with the country's development.[66] Jimmy Carter in his memoirs stated that both King Khalid and then Crown Prince Fahd assured him of "their unequivocal support for Sadat", but they would realize no concrete move in this direction, at least not publicly.[67]


Since King Khalid suffered from heart ailment for a long period of time, then Crown Prince Fahd was in charge of ruling the country.[68] King Khalid had a massive heart attack in 1970 and had a heart surgery in 1972 at the Cleveland Clinic in the United States.[69] On 3 October 1978, he underwent a second heart surgery again in Cleveland.[69][70] He also had a hip operation in London in 1976.[71][72] In February 1980, King Khalid had a minor heart attack.[37]

Personal life

King Khalid married four times and was the father of ten children (four sons and six daughters). While the sequence in seniority of his wives is not known clearly, the ladies were:

  • Latifa bint Ahmed Al Sudairi. She was the sister of Khalid's step-mother Hussa bint Ahmed Al Sudairi (mother of the "Sudairi Seven") and also of Sultana bint Ahmed Al Sudairi, a wife of King Faisal.[73]
  • Tarfa bint Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud. She was born into a cadet branch of the Al Saud dynasty itself, and was a grandniece of Khalid's father King Abdulaziz.
  • Noura bint Turki bin Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Turki Al Saud. Again born into a cadet branch of the Al Saud dynasty, she was the mother of Khalid's elder sons, Prince Bandar and Prince Abdullah. She died at age 95 on 12 September 2011.[74]
  • Sita bint Fahd Al Damir[75] was the mother of Khalid's daughters and of his youngest son, Prince Faisal. She was from the Ujman tribe in Al Badiyah and was a niece of Wasmiyah Al Damir, wife of Abdullah bin Jiluwi.[76] She died on 25 December 2012 at the age of 90.[77]

Khalid had four sons and six daughters.[1] His youngest son, Prince Faisal, is the governor of Asir Province and a member of the Allegiance Council. One of his daughters, Hussa bint Khalid, married Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki, grandson of Turki I.[78][79] She died at the age of 59 in November 2010.[80] Another daughter, Princess Moudi (married to a son of King Faisal), is the general secretary of the King Khalid Foundation and the Al Nahda Foundation, and a member of the Consultative Assembly.[81][82]

Khalid was described as warm and cheerful and adored by his sisters and brothers, and as attentive and devout.[37] Falconry and horse-riding were Khalid's favorite pastimes,[4][83] leading to the description of him as a man of the desert.[32] He bought the first Toyota Landcruiser in 1955 for falconry.[84] In December 1975 Khalid bought the then longest Cadillac at 25 feet and 2 inches long.[85] Khalid bought Beechwood House in the north London suburb of Highgate for £1.9 million in March 1977.[86]

Death and funeral

King Khalid died on 13 June 1982 due to a heart attack in Taif.[68][87] On the same day his body was brought from Taif to Mecca. After funeral prayers at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, King Khalid was buried in Al Oud cemetery in Riyadh.[68][88] Leaders of Qatar, Kuwait, Djibouti, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain,[68] as well as then-President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak, participated in the funeral.[89]


King Khalid International Airport and King Khalid Eye Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, King Khalid Military City and King Khalid Medical City in the Eastern province were all named after him.[66][90] Also, his family established King Khalid Foundation, which is being headed by his son, Abdullah bin Khalid.[91]


In January 1981, King Khalid was awarded by the United Nations (UN) a gold medal. This medal is the UN's highest decoration for the statesmen who significantly contributed to peace and cooperation worldwide.[92] King Khalid also received the King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam due to his efforts in support of Islamic solidarity in 1981.[93]


Foreign honour


See also


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Khalid of Saudi Arabia
Born: 1913 Died: 1982
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Saudi Arabia
Succeeded by
Saudi Arabian royalty
Preceded by
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
King Faisal
Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia
Succeeded by
King Fahd

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