Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Arabic: سعود بن فيصل بن عبد العزيز آل سعود), also known as Saud Al Faisal (Arabic: سعود الفيصل; 2 January 1940 – 9 July 2015), was a Saudi diplomat and statesman who served as Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister from 1975 to 2015. By the time of his retirement, he was the world’s longest-serving foreign minister. He was a member of the Saudi royal family.
Early life, education and early political career
Saud bin Faisal was born in Taif on 2 January 1940. He was the second son of King Faisal and Iffat Al-Thunayan. He attended the Hun School of Princeton and graduated from Princeton University in 1964 or 1965 with a bachelor of arts degree in economics He was the full brother of Mohammed bin Faisal, Turki bin Faisal, Luluwah bint Faisal, Sara bint Faisal and Haifa bint Faisal.
He became an economic consultant for the ministry of petroleum. In 1966, he moved to general organization for petroleum and mineral resources (Petromin). In February 1970, he became deputy governor of Petromin for planning affairs. He was also a member of the High Coordination Committee. In 1971, he became deputy minister of petroleum. Until his appointment as state minister for foreign affairs in 1975, Prince Saud served in this post at the oil ministry.
Saud bin Faisal was the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia. He was appointed to the post in March 1975. His term ended on 29 April 2015 when he was replaced by Adel al-Jubeir, a former Saudi ambassador to the United States.
With President Carter
In March 1975, King Khalid appointed him as foreign minister. He currently holds the record for having been the world’s longest-serving foreign minister. He was well regarded in the diplomatic community. He spoke seven languages.
In May 1985, he officially visited Iran and meetings were focused on the annual pilgrimage of Iranians to Mecca. The same year Prince Saud raised awareness in Britain of Soviet activity in the Horn of Africa. He asked Condoleezza Rice to focus on “key substantive issues” of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He complained that US banks were auditing Saudi Embassy banks illegally. He asserted that auditors were “inappropriate and aggressive”. He also declared that the Saudi Embassy has diplomatic immunity.
Prince Saud said in 2004 that Saudi Arabia would like to reduce its dependence on U.S.-dominated security arrangements. In July 2004, he claimed the real source of problems in the Middle East were not Muslims but “injustice and deprivation inflicted in the region”. In August 2007, he denied allegations that terrorists were travelling from Saudi Arabia to Iraq and claimed it was vice versa.
On 10 March 2006, he met with Hamas leaders in Riyadh. In July 2006, he urged U.S. President George W. Bush to call for a ceasefire in the Lebanon bombing. In January 2008, he supported parliamentary elections in Pakistan. He indicated that Pakistan did not need “overt, external interference” to solve political division. He commended Nawaz Sharif as stable bipartisan candidate.
In February 2010, he told General Jones to distinguish between friends and enemies in Pakistan rather than using indiscriminate military action. He insisted that Pakistan’s army must maintain its credibility. In November 2010, he led the Saudi delegation at the G-20 Summit.
In January 2011, he withdrew out of mediation efforts to reinstate a government in Lebanon. In March 2011, he went to Europe to rally support for Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Bahrain.
After U.S. Gulf Cooperation Council forum at the GCC secretariat in Riyadh on 31 March 2012, he said it was a “duty” to arm the Syrian opposition and help them defend themselves against the daily bloody crackdown by forces loyal to PresidentBashar al-Assad. Commenting on the fragile security situation, Prince Saud noted that: “One of the most important causes is the continuation of the unresolved conflict as well as the continuation of the Israeli aggression policy against the Palestinians. “We have discussed, in the meeting, many issues, especially the heinous massacre against the Syrian people. We also discussed the latest developments in Yemen, and reviewed the overall developments and political situation in the Gulf region, the Middle East and North Africa, as well as their repercussions on the security and stability of the region and the world,” Prince Saud said.
Iran and Lebanon
Rather than military action on Iran, Saud Al Faisal called for tougher sanctions such as travel bans and further bank lending restrictions. He has stated U.S. foreign policy has tilted more power for Iran. He compared the Iranian influence in Iraq with Iranian influence in Lebanon. He commended positive developments by Iran such as its influence over Hezbollah to end street protests.
In early 2011, he expressed fear of the “dangerous” instability in Lebanon after the fall of the Saad Hariri government. He also stated that Lebanon’s ability to establish peaceful coexistence with so many different groups may be a significant loss in the Arab world if the nation failed in creating a government.
Prince Saud (left) meets Russian President Vladimir Putin on 14 February 2008.
In May 2014 it was reported that Prince Saud had invited Iran’s foreign ministerMohammad Javad Zarif to visit Riyadh, breaking the ice in one of the most hostile relationships in the Middle East ahead of key talks on Iran’s nuclear program in Vienna. Speaking to reporters in the Saudi capital, Foreign Minister Prince Saud said the kingdom was ready to host Iranian Foreign Minister “anytime he sees fit” and indicated that Riyadh was willing to open negotiations with its nemesis on the many combustible issues dividing them.
Other governmental activities
Starting in 1998 under the reign of King Fahd, Saud Al Faisal and then the Crown Prince Abdullah managed the energy sector through a committee of technocrats and princes. More specifically, Prince Saud was appointed chairman of the Saudi Aramco’s committee charged with the project assessment in September 1999.
On 20 November 2009, King Abdullah appointed Prince Saud as the chairman of the influential supreme economic council of Saudi Arabia. Prince Saud was also a member of the military service council.
Saudi foreign policy is designed by the King, not by the foreign minister. Prince Saud worked closely with King Khalid, KingFahd and King Abdullah.
Prince Saud was firmly anti-Soviet and was an Arab nationalist. He was more resistant to Israeli proposals than King Fahd. He lamented his legacy might be defined “by profound disappointment than by success”. He regretted how his generation of leaders have failed to create a Palestinian state. He encouraged Iraqis to defend their country’s sovereignty.
His relationship with King Fahd was strained. He was one of King Abdullah’s closest allies. He led Saudi Arabia’s efforts to redefine its international image after the September 11 attacks.
Exclusion from the Throne
Prince Saud had been mentioned as a candidate to Saudi Arabia’s line of succession. However, he suffered health deterioration. Unlike other Saudi royals, Prince Saud did not hold majlis which had been cause for speculation that he was not interested in kingship.
Upon the death of King Abdullah, he was passed over from the succession when a far younger prince, Muhammad bin Nayef was appointed deputy crown prince.
Prince Saud was married to his cousin Jawhara bint Abdullah bin Abdul-Rahman, and together they have three sons and three daughters. His daughter Haifa bint Saud is married to Prince Sultan bin Salman, the first of Royal Blood and the first Arab astronaut. Prince Saud lived in Jeddah. Unlike other members of the Al Saud, he often spoke publicly and interacted with reporters. Prince Saud spoke excellent English. He liked to play tennis.
Prince Saud was closely involved in philanthropy. He was a founding member of the King Faisal Foundation and chairman of the board of directors for the King Faisal School and Al Faisal University in Riyadh. He was also a member of the Society for Disabled Children and the Madinah Society for Welfare and Social Services.
Prince Saud suffered from Parkinson’s disease and back pain. He had surgery in the United States. His physical appearance showed signs of health deterioration, especially difficulty standing upright. On 11 August 2012, Saudi Royal Court stated that Prince Saud had another surgery to remove a “simple” blockage in the intestines due to adhesions resulting from previous surgery. The operation was performed at the Specialist Hospital in Jeddah. Prince Saud went to Los Angeles after he left the hospital on 6 September 2012. The ministry announced that he would stay there for a while.
On 25 January 2015, Saudi Royal Court announced that Prince Saud had a spine surgery in the U.S. that was successful. In March 2015 he was photographed using a walker.
Illness and death
With age, Saud faced many health problems, suffering from chronic back pain and having had various surgeries.
Prince Saud died on 9 July 2015 at age 75
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