Parents: Abdul-Aziz, king of Saudi Arabia, and Turfa
Date of Birth: 1906
Spouse: Sultana bin Ahmed bin Muhammad Al-Sudairi, then Iffat Al-Thunayan
Reign: 1964 – 1975
Summary: Faisal was the son of Saudi Arabia's founder, Abdul-Aziz. During his youth, he was a commander in his father's army and won a decisive victory at Hijaz near Mecca. He was made governor of Hijaz in 1926. When the kingdom was formally established in 1932, Faisal became the Minister of Foreign Affairs, a position he held for life. He continued to command troops during the Saudi-Yemeni War in 1934. When his father's health became to decline in the 1950s, Faisal oversaw the expansion of the Saudi bureaucracy to better manage the government, and he installed extended family members to hundreds of government posts. His brother, Saud, became king in 1953 and Faisal became crown prince, but continued in his other positions. Saud was a reckless spender and nearly drove the government into bankruptcy so in 1958, Faisal convinced the family and religious leaders to appoint him Prime Minister. Two years later, Faisal resigned the post due to conflicts with the king. He regained it in 1962 but only after much effort among the Saud family. Faisal became known as a reformer and modernizer in Saudi Arabia. Women were permitted in education, though the content was controlled by the conservative religious establishment. Slavery was officially abolished. The first national television station was established in 1963. Saud was forced to leave the country that same year for medical reasons and Faisal reorganized the government while the king was away. When the king returned, Faisal demanded that the monarchy become ceremonial and himself be declared Regent. When Saud refused the demands, Faisal surrounded the royal palace with National Guard troops. Saud finally relented and appointed Faisal as regent. Later that year, Saud abdicated in favor of his brother and Faisal became king on 2 November 1964. Saud went into exile in Greece.
Balancing the budget became Faisal's primary political goal, which he succeeded in by cashing in on oil revenue. He modernized the state by establishing a modern judicial system and opening universities, while at the same time encouraging students to study abroad and then return to join the civil service. Faisal created a welfare state and divided the kingdom into administrative regions. The king also increased diplomacy internationally, reaching out to the United States and Islamic states. During the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Faisal withdrew oil from the world market to punish Western states for supporting Israel. For this action, he was named Time magazine's Man of the Year in 1974. Profits earned from his boycott helped fund the Palestine Liberation Organization and other pro-Islamic movements in the region. Faisal was assassinated by his nephew in 1975 for not entirely known reasons. The king was shot point-blank in the chin and the ear. He died soon after. The nephew was found guilty of regicide and executed three months later in a public beheading, despite the final wish of the king being to spare the life of the nephew. Faisal was succeeded by his brother Khalid.
Date of Death: 25 March 1975
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