2005 News Story

King Fahd 1923-2005
The Royal Court announced the death of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz on August 1, 2005.
  King Fahd, who died August 1, 2005, was proclaimed fifth king of Saudi Arabia on June 13, 1982.

On June 13, 1982, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud assumed the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

As the son of King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud, the legendary founder of modern Saudi Arabia, King Fahd inherited his father's legacy as the guardian of a nation deeply rooted in the Islamic faith.

King Fahd was the fifth leader to direct the development of the country from a desert state into a prominent member of the international political and economic scene. Reflecting upon Saudi Arabia's phenomenal progress in the economic, social and political realms, King Fahd remarked: "With the blessing and grace of Almighty God and with the assistance of the faithful Saudi people, we shall continue the welfare march of construction and development and maintain the gains which are reflected by comprehensive achievements in various fields."

King Fahd helped design and implement many programs that have shaped Saudi Arabia's progress both at home and in the international arena. As he guided the nation toward a promising future, King Fahd said that he was "confident that a country like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and people such as the Saudi people who achieved all the goals of the past period, are worthy of achieving the plans set for our future, by God's will".

King Fahd was born in 1923 in Riyadh. During his youth, he attended one of the country's first educational institutions. He was also strongly influenced by his father, King Abdulaziz, who taught him about religion, history and Arab culture.

In 1953, he became the nation's first Minister of Education. Under his guidance, the new ministry laid the foundation for a nationwide school system. Years later, he recalled that in those early days "there was only one secondary school in the Kingdom - in Makkah. The total number of those attending school in Saudi Arabia at that time was only 30,000."

Today, more than 5.2 million students are enrolled in eleven universities, over 100 colleges and some 30,000 schools throughout the country. Under successive five-year development plans, the country has placed great emphasis on building its indigenous manpower and has instituted numerous vocational and technical training programs. At the most fundamental level, King Fahd continued to emphasize the importance of education.

Appointed Minister of the Interior in 1962, then-Prince Fahd traveled extensively throughout the developing nation, further acquainting himself with its people and diverse regions. In 1967, he also assumed the position of Second Deputy Prime Minister. In this capacity, he frequently chaired the regular meetings of the Council of Ministers.

King Fahd was introduced early in life to the world of international diplomacy. In 1945, at age 22, he accompanied his elder brother, Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz, to the signing of the United Nations Charter in San Francisco. Several years later, he traveled to Great Britain to represent Saudi Arabia at the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

This experience in the world of international relations was invaluable because, as the Kingdom began to emerge as a world leader, Prince Fahd assumed greater diplomatic responsibilities.

In 1974, Prince Fahd paid his first official visit to the United States, holding wide-ranging discussions with President Richard Nixon.

Prince Fahd became Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister in March 1975, when Khalid bin Abdulaziz was proclaimed King. The growing leadership of the Kingdom required Crown Prince Fahd to assume an increasingly active role in international affairs. In particular, Crown Prince Fahd's relationship with U.S. officials deepened into one of mutual confidence. Meeting with President Jimmy Carter in 1977, Crown Prince Fahd emphasized the need for a just and lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.  The Crown Prince's personal interest in seeking an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict was demonstrated in his 'Eight-Point Peace Plan', proposed in August 1981. One year later the plan was unanimously adopted at the Arab summit in Fez, Morocco, and became the foundation for the 'Fez Declaration'.

While Crown Prince, he continued to direct the domestic progress of his nation during a period of intensified development. He was particularly instrumental in guiding the second and third five-year development plans (1975-79 and 1980-84), which launched a program to modernize the country's infrastructure. These years saw significant growth in the sectors of education, housing, transportation, industry, agriculture and communications.

King Fahd's reign was marked by his great concern for the Saudi people.  In his desire to ensure the continued development and security of the nation into the 21st century, King Fahd introduced a series of measures aimed at revitalizing and streamlining the existing political and administrative system. On March 1, 1992, he introduced a new Basic Law for the System of Government, which outlines its goals and responsibilities and defines the relationship between the ruler and citizens. That same year, he restructured Majlis Al-Shura (Consultative Council) to give it a more formalized and efficient mechanism. Its current 150 members advise the King on issues of importance to the nation.  King Fahd also promulgated new bylaws for the Provincial System to raise the efficiency of administration of the country's provinces and promote their continued development. Similarly, King Fahd introduced new bylaws for the Council of Ministers the following year.

King Fahd's dedication to the nation was surpassed only by his commitment to Islam. As the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah, the holiest sites in Islam, King Fahd personally supervised a series of projects to facilitate the Hajj for the more than two million pilgrims from around the world who visit the holy sites each year.  In 1985, King Fahd launched a major project to expand the two holy mosques and the facilities in Makkah and Madinah in an effort to allow a larger number of Muslims to make the pilgrimage in comfort and safety.  The expansions almost doubled the size of the Holy Mosque in Makkah to 3.5 million square feet to accommodate one million worshippers and has increased the size of the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah tenfold to 1.78 million square feet to accommodate half a million people. The project cost an estimated 11.2 billion U.S. dollars. King Fahd has also donated funds for the restoration in Jerusalem of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site of Islam, and for the Dome of the Rock and Omar Ibn Al-Khattab mosques.

King Fahd was an active and effective player on the global diplomatic scene. He never hesitated to use his diplomatic and mediation skills in times of crisis, especially when the interests of Muslims and Arabs were at stake. He actively supported efforts to seek a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict and played a major role in forming Arab, Muslim and international support for the effort to liberate Kuwait during the 1990-91 Arabian Gulf crisis.  King Fahd was also active in supporting negotiated settlements for other crises in the Gulf region and the Arab and Islamic worlds. In the weeks before the Iraqi invasion on August 2, 1990, King Fahd sought to mediate the dispute between Kuwait and Iraq.  His standing and experience combined to make him a prominent leader within the Arab and Islamic worlds to whom many have turned for help and assistance.