History of Saudi Arabia royal succession strugglessteemCreated with Sketch.

in saudi •  last year


Between 1744 and 1893 there were fourteen successions in the House of Saud, as power passed from one king to another.

The first two, from Muhammad bin Saud to his son Abdul Aziz and then to his son Saud, were smooth and uncontested.

The three kings ruled from 1744 to 1814, and they oversaw the great growth of the first Saudi Kingdom.


The next twelve successions witnessed eleven power struggles within the family as power was transferred from one monarch to another.

Of fourteen successions in the first two Saudi states, eleven were contested.

The founders avoided succession struggles; the generations that followed were consumed with them.



If Saudis today study the first Saudi state for inspiration about their faith and their roots in the eighteenth century, the second state is a lesson in the dangers of family disharmony.

Surrounded by powerful enemies like the Ottomans and the British, the family prospered when its enemies were distracted and the family was united.


When the regional powers were able to deploy forces into Arabia and the family was split, the House of Saud was on the defensive if not defeated.

The nineteenth century was a time of peril for the family and their Wahhabi ally because the royal family was divided and let the door open to foreign conspiracy against them.

In the twentieth century the Saudis would not repeat this mistake.

'Kings and Presidents: Saudi Arabia and the United States since FDR' by Bruce Riedel

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