VII. The Contemporary Period, 1945–2000 > E. The Middle East and North Africa, 1945–2000 > 3. The Middle East and Egypt, 1943–2000 > j. Saudi Arabia
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1944)
j. Saudi Arabia
1953, Nov. 9
Death of ABD AL-AZIZ IBN SA`UD. His oldest son, Sa`ud, ascended the throne.  1
Creation of a full-fledged cabinet. Before World War II, there had been only two government ministers, one for foreign affairs and the other for finance. Posts for defense (1944) and the interior (1952) later appeared, and in 1953 the number of ministers was expanded to ten. Princes from the royal family assumed nearly all the positions, confirming Saudi dominance over the central government.  2
STRUGGLE FOR POWER between KING SA`UD and his brother, FAYSAL. The latter held effective power for most of this period (1958–60 and 1962–64) as the prime minister. The rivalry centered on the future direction of the Saudi government. Sa`ud believed that a loose confederation of tribes, as in the past, was the best system. Faysal, on the other hand, argued that the Saudi government had to be radically reorganized into a modern state, which would be better able to manage the economy and society in an era of abundant oil wealth.  3
Expansion of the armed forces. The army grew from 12,000 to 40,000 and was complemented by the National Guard, primarily recruited from among tribesmen and standing at around 23,000 in 1982. The government also built a highly trained air force whose membership reached 14,000.  4
Expansion of the educational system. The total number of students increased from a little over 200,000 to about 2.2 million.  5
1964, Nov
ABDICATION OF SA`UD. After a palace revolution, his brother, FAYSAL, became the new Saudi king. Faysal embarked on policies that transformed the Saudi government into a modern state. One of the peculiar features of the Saudi state was the overwhelming presence of the Saudi royal family, which numbered some 20,000 individuals by the 1980s. Saudi princes and their relatives filled the central and provincial governments, the upper echelons of the bureaucracy, and the armed forces.  6
1975, March 25
ASSASSINATION OF KING FAYSAL by his nephew. He was succeeded by his half brother KHALID IBN ABD AL-AZIZ.  7
1979, Nov. 20
Occupation of the Great Mosque in Mecca by religious militants and Utayba tribesmen. The protesters wanted an Islamic state on the Iranian model and objected to the loose and ostentatious lifestyle of the royal family. Rioting broke out concurrently in the Province of Hasa, which held a large portion of Saudi oil reserves and a substantial population of Shi’ites. These disturbances were quelled with little violence. In Mecca, security forces besieged the Great Mosque for over two weeks before the surviving insurgents finally surrendered (Dec. 5).  8
Death of King Khalid, who was succeeded by his half brother FAHD.  9
1987, July 30
Death in Mecca of over 400 Muslim pilgrims, most of them Iranian. The pilgrims lost their lives in political demonstrations that degenerated into violent clashes with Saudi security forces.  10
1989, Dec. 23
An agreement between Saudi Arabia and Oman formally fixed the border between the two countries. The settlement followed armed clashes along the border in October.  11
1993, Aug. 20
A royal decree established a consultative council, the first legislative institution in the history of the Saudi kingdom. The 60-seat council, whose members were appointed by the king, was granted no real power and could not pass legislation.  12
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.