4
The Emergence of Ibn Sa'ud

' ABD AL 'Aziz (or Ibn Sa'ud as he is commonly known) was born in circumstances of little promise. He was the fourth child of ' Abd ar-Rahman -- two brothers, Faisal and Fahd, and one sister, Nura, being older than he. The exact date of his birth is not known as his mother could not read or write but it must have been about the zoth of Dhul Hijja 1297 A.H. corresponding to 26th of November A.D. 1880. His father was the youngest son of Faisal0, the seventh Wahhabi ruler in ar-Riyadh, who reigned during the Egyptian occupation. Faisal was once expelled from ar-Riyadh by the Egyptian Governor and sent to Egypt. Five years later he was reinstated and returned to rule over Nejd for the next twenty-two years. He was renowned as one of its great and successful Sa'udi Amirs. It is small wonder that Ibn Sa'ud and his sons used to mention with pride that they belonged to the Al Faisal -- the branch, the family group descending from the great Faisal, who only two centuries ago had held the leadership of Central Arabia.

In the days of ' Abd ar-Rahman the genius of leadership seemed to have deserted the Sa'udi clan. Setbacks had not united Ibn Sa'ud's forebears. On the contrary, bitterness had increased between various members of the family as each sought in his own way to regain power; disappointment and mutual jealousy had led them to treason, poison and bloodshed. Not the least of the Sa'udi troubles was that they were now subject to the House of Rashid whose centre was in Ha'il in the north where the great tribe of the Shammar lived. ' Abd ar-Rahman was heir to the endless intrigues of his elder brothers with their conflicting

-37-

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The Wells of Ibn Sa'ud
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Author's Acknowledgements viii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - I Meet Wahhabi Arabia 7
  • 2 - The Town of the Consuls 13
  • 3 - The Desert Plant of Wahhabism 29
  • 4 - The Emergence of Ibn Sa'Ud 37
  • 5 - Consolidation 54
  • 6 - First Contacts with Great Britain 69
  • 7 - The Dual Monarchy 86
  • 8 - First Wahhabi Impacts 102
  • 9 - The Pilgrimage 114
  • 10 - The Arrival of the Americans 127
  • 11 - The Palestine Problem 149
  • 12 - The Arab League 167
  • 13 - Interlude and Return to Arabia 174
  • 14 - The Americans in Arabia 185
  • 15 - Agriculture and Water 203
  • 16 - The Last Audience 220
  • 17 - A Visit to Amir Sa'Ud 231
  • 18 - The Last Visit 240
  • 19 - Ibn Sa'Ud's Inheritance 247
  • Glossary 259
  • Index 265
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