Saudi Arabia: King Salman Bin Abdelaziz Al-Saud


Role: Head of State and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques

Born to Hessa Bint Ahmed Al Sudairi, the best-known wife of the kingdom’s founder King Abdelaziz (Ibn Saud), Salman is one of the last (and oldest) surviving ‘Sudairi Seven’ brothers.

Over a long career Salman became known as one of the family’s hardest workers and one of the most accessible senior princes, with a great knowledge of tribal history and key families in central Arabia. He was Riyadh governor for almost half a century, overseeing the capital’s rapid development and, during that time, assiduously cultivating relationships with numerous interest groups.

Observers have long debated how affected the king is by age-related mental decline, but his hand was seen behind several of the most ruthless incidents in the years since his January 2015 succession, including the Ritz-Carlton round-up those accused of corruption in November 2017 and the imprisonment of his full-brother Ahmed (GSN 1,099), former crown prince Mohammed Bin Nayef and key members of the late King Abdullah’s family.

While the kingdom is changing quickly on his watch, Salman’s commitment to reform is mainly focused on economic and governance issues. He is a traditionalist when it comes to political change and social and religious reform.

Family background

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