etcetera | Obituaries Electronic Telegraph
Saturday 21 February 1998
Issue 1002

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Prince Abdallah ibn Saud

Governor of Mecca who, with his father, fell from favour

PRINCE Abdallah Ibn Saud Ibn Abd Al-Aziz Al-Saud, who has died aged 65, was governor of the Saudi Arabian province of Mecca during the reign of his father, King Saud.

Prince Abdallah was the fifth son of this extravagant and ineffectual ruler. Abdallah's place in the hierarchy of the king's sons, rather than any demonstrated ability, entitled him to posts in his father's court from an early age.

Abdallah had literally countless brothers and sisters. King Saud, emulating his father, King Abd al-Aziz, the founder of the modern Saudi state, fathered perhaps 50 sons and 50 daughters.

From his accession in 1953, Saud sought to consolidate power by advancing the careers of his sons, at first in the royal household, later in government. At 20, Abdallah became keeper of the royal gardens, a titular post in a court of great vulgarity.

In 1960 Abdallah was made governor of Mecca, another largely ceremonial position. He held the post for little more than a year, as by this time the political forces in the country were ranged against King Saud, and behind his half-brother Faisal ibn Abd al-Aziz, who forced Saud into relinquishing active political power. As de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Faisal undid many of Saud's appointments, and Abdallah was dismissed.

By 1964, Saud was leading a hopeless campaign, led by the more hotheaded of his sons, to regain power. By the end of the year, those of Saud's sons who were still in the country were placed under house arrest with him, "sleeping on mattresses in a villa behind the palace" according to diplomatic reports.

In December 1964, a month after Saud went into exile, Abdallah was among 11 of the ex-king's sons to give up the struggle on their father's behalf and pledge allegiance on the Koran to Faisal. Those who refused remained in exile.

Abdallah took no part in government or public affairs after his father's demise.

He was the father of eight sons and four daughters.


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