King of Saudi Arabia

The King of Saudi Arabia is the monarchial head of state and ruler of Saudi Arabia who holds absolute power. He is the head of the Saudi Arabian royal family, the House of Saud.[1] The king is called the "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques" (خادم الحرمين الشريفين), a title that signifies Saudi Arabia's jurisdiction over the mosques of Masjid al Haram in Mecca and Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina. The title has been used many times through the history of Islam. The first Saudi monarch to use the title was King Faisal; however, King Khalid did not use the title after him. In 1986, King Fahd replaced "His Majesty" with the title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and it has been ever since used by both King Abdullah and King Salman bin Abdulaziz.[2]

King of Saudi Arabia
ملك المملكة العربية السعودية
Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
since 23 January 2015
StyleCustodian of the Two Holy Mosques (formal)
His Majesty (diplomatic relations)
Heir apparentMohammed bin Salman
First monarchKing Abdulaziz
Formation23 September 1932
ResidenceAl-Yamamah Palace


Ibn Saud King Abdul-Aziz (known in the West as Ibn Saud) regained his patrimony, which is known as today's Saudi Arabia in 1902. Restoring his family as emirs of Emirate of Riyadh, he then established Sultanate of Nejd as his headquarters in 1922. Following the establishment of Riyadh as the capital of his state, King Abdulaziz Al-Saud then captured Hejaz in 1925.[3]

Ibn Saud proclaimed his dominions as the Sultanate of Nejd in 1921, shortly before completing the unification of the region. He was proclaimed king/malik of Hejaz in 1926, and raised Nejd to a kingdom as well in 1927. For the next five years, Ibn Saud administered the two parts of his realm, the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd as separate units. On 23 September 1932, he formally united his territories into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.[4][5]


The kings since Ibn Saud's death have all been his sons, and all likely immediate successors to the reigning King Salman will be from among his progeny.[6] This makes the Saudi monarchy quite distinct from Western monarchies, which usually feature large, clearly defined royal families and orders of succession, and use the absolute primogeniture system of succession. Muhammad bin Nayef was the first grandson of Ibn Saud to be in the line of succession before being deposed from the position of Crown Prince by a royal decree in 2017.[7]

Other functions

The king of Saudi Arabia is also considered the head of the House of Saud and prime minister. The crown prince is also the "deputy prime minister". The kings after Faisal have named a "second deputy prime minister" as the subsequent heir after the crown prince.

Royal Standard

  • The Royal Flag consists of a green flag, with an Arabic inscription and a sword featured in white, and with the national emblem embroidered in gold in the lower right canton.[8]
Royal Flag of the King

The script on the flag is written in the Thuluth script. It is the shahada or Islamic declaration of faith:

لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله
lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, muhammadun rasūlu-llāh
There is no other god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of God.[9]
  • The Royal Standard consists of a green flag, in the center of the national emblem embroidered with gold.

Kings of Saudi Arabia (1932–present)

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Abdul Aziz
  • Ibn Saud
  • عبد العزيز
(1875-01-15)15 January 1875 –
9 November 1953(1953-11-09) (aged 78)
23 September 1932 (aged 57)9 November 1953
(death by natural causes)
Reign established by conquest
Son of Imam Abdul Rahman and Sara bint Ahmed Al Sudairi
  • سعود
(1902-01-12)12 January 1902 –
23 February 1969(1969-02-23) (aged 67)
9 November 1953 (aged 51)2 November 1964
Son of King Abdulaziz and Wadha bint Muhammad Al OrairSaud
  • فيصل
(1906-04-14)14 April 1906 –
25 March 1975(1975-03-25) (aged 68)
2 November 1964 (aged 58)25 March 1975
Son of King Abdulaziz and Tarfa bint Abdullah Al SheikhSaud
  • خالد
(1913-02-13)13 February 1913 –
13 June 1982(1982-06-13) (aged 69)
25 March 1975 (aged 62)13 June 1982 (death by natural causes)Son of King Abdulaziz and Al Jawhara bint Musaed bin Jiluwi Al SaudSaud
  • فهد
1921/23 – 1 August 2005 (aged 82–84)13 June 1982 (aged 59–61)1 August 2005 (death by natural causes)Son of King Abdulaziz and Hussa bint Ahmed Al SudairiSaud
  • عبد الله
(1924-08-01)1 August 1924 –
23 January 2015(2015-01-23) (aged 90)
1 August 2005 (aged 81)23 January 2015 (death by natural causes)Son of King Abdulaziz and Fahda bint Asi Al ShuraimSaud
  • سلمان
(1935-12-31) 31 December 193523 January 2015 (aged 79)IncumbentSon of King Abdulaziz and Hussa bint Ahmed Al SudairiSaud

Current heirs-apparent


Criticism of the King, religious leaders, or government is not allowed and can generally mean jail time for the critics. It can also result in death.[11][12]


Salman of Saudi ArabiaAbdullah of Saudi ArabiaFahd of Saudi ArabiaKhalid of Saudi ArabiaFaisal of Saudi ArabiaSaud of Saudi ArabiaIbn Saud
Graph of change of life expectancy in Saudi Arabia under various kings

See also

  • List of rulers of Saudi Arabia


  1. "Saudi Arabia - Government and society". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  2. "Story behind the king's title". Arab News. 27 January 2015. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  3. "History | The Embassy of The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia". Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  4. "About Saudi Arabia". UNDP in Saudi Arabia. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  5. "History of Saudi Arabia. ( The Saudi National Day 23, Sep )". Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  6. "Governance and Politics of Saudi Arabia". Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  7. "Mohammed bin Salman becomes Saudi Crown Prince with 31 out of 34 votes". Al Arabiya English. 21 June 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  8. "Royal Standard (Saudi Arabia)". Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  9. "About Saudi Arabia: Facts and figures". The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington D.C. Archived from the original on 17 April 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  10. "Who is Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed?". BBC News. 22 October 2018. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  11. "Saudi expats launch opposition party on anniversary of Jamal Khashoggi's death". 2 October 2020.
  12. Saudi Arabia: Events of 2019. 12 December 2019.
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