Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH — Few leaders leave a memorable imprint in people’s minds as impressively as King Abdul Aziz, the founder of the Third Saudi State. His influence will remain immortal for centuries to come.
His personality par excellence enabled him to build a great state that currently occupies an important position in all Arab, regional and international forums. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a regional heavyweight, still runs on the same foundation and principles that its founder had laid down.
The legendary King was a remarkable leader of imagination and vision who set Saudi Arabia on the road to modernization.
King Abdul Aziz was born at the end of the Second Saudi State in 1876 in Riyadh, which was going through a final stage of weakness until it ended in 1891 at the hands of Ibn Rashid.
Imam Abdul Rahman, the father of King Abdul Aziz, tried his best to revive the Second Saudi State and repel the attacks of Ibn Rashid, but the attempts were unsuccessful, and hence he moved with his family to Kuwait. Bidding adieu to his native town was the most painful moment in his life when he was only 15 years old.
King Abdul Aziz was greatly influenced by his father and was keen to fulfill his dreams. He spent his exiled childhood, closely observing the political developments and contemplating the future course of action, waiting for the day when he could regain the glory of his ancestors.
His first path-breaking happened when he recaptured Riyadh in 1902 with a group of his followers. And thus, a new phase in the history of the modern Saudi State began when the declaration about the start of King Abdul Aziz’s reign was made from the Masmak Palace tower.
During the King’s time, the Arabian Peninsula was greatly divided and scattered among various quarreling tribes. He was familiar with their traditions, nature, and what was in their heart. And with his charismatic presence and leadership mindset, he managed to win their favor and loyalty and brought many of them to his side. He organized these tribes with a unified and coherent political system.
Another intelligent political decision made by the King was taking a neutral position regarding World War I (1914-1918). He did neither declare war on the Ottoman Empire, nor did he fight at the same time with the British, which made the two teams compete to win his favor, and this gained him more supporters after the end of the war.
King Abdul Aziz was compassionate even to animals, especially camels. Al-Rihani mentions an interesting story about his kindness to camels: At the Mamouna tent, King Abdul Aziz was watching a convoy of camels that were bringing us vegetables and water from Al-Ahsa. At that time, the King ordered him to bring the man in charge of the convoy and asked him about a camel he noticed. The man replied that it’s one of the wild kinds that refuses to eat. So, the King ordered him to leave the camel to graze with the army and not take it back with him. This shows how compassionate the King was, as one who does not do justice to his camel, does not do justice to people, Al-Rihani observed.
King Abdul Aziz had a great amount of fondness toward his family members, especially his father. Once, during the Hajj, when he found his aged father had difficulties for walking, the King hurried to carry him and thus enabled him to complete his rituals.
Among all his siblings, the King was closest to his sister Princess Noura. He used to say: “I am the brother of Noura (her name means light in Arabic). I am the brother of lights.” He was keen to visit her daily at her home.
Another famous trait of the King was his great respect for scholars. He used to introduce them during his royal sessions, listen to them, and articulate his viewpoints with regard to the value of knowledge and scholars and their impact on life.
All the events and positions in his life contributed to building his unique and magnanimous personality. But these events had also been instrumental in refining his personality as he learned from their patience, strength, and courage.
In a nutshell, King Abdul Aziz had a strong, dynamic, charismatic, captivating, and respectable personality that produced an electrifying effect on everyone who met him. He had an attractive and charismatic image and a soft humble demeanor too. He was not only a king, but also head of a family, a lover of all, and a role model in his words and deeds.