Saudi Arabia Monarch. He reigned as the fifth King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 1982 until his death in 200h. He managed to maintain a balance between the demanding forces and influences in his country, making his country a leader in the Arab and Islamic World, and a significant leader in the international community. Born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1923 (his exact date of birth is not known), when his father, Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud was completing the unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (the Kingdom would be declared in 1932, when Abdul was 9 years old). He was educated at the Princes' School in Riyadh, a special school to provide the best possible education to the future leaders of Saudi Arabia. As part of his development as a future leader of his people, he was appointed Minister of Education in 1953, and began laying the foundation for an education system that saw 7 universities, 83 colleges, and over 18,000 schools. In 1962, he became Interior Minister, furthering his understanding of the government. When his father died and his brother, Khaled, became King, he became the power behind the throne, helping to rule Saudi Arabia progressively, and continuing to develop its influence in the modern world. On June 13, 1982, he became the fifth King of Saudi Arabia after the death of King Khaled, only three years after neighboring Iran was proclaimed an Islamic Republic, and Islamic fundamentalism seemed to take an active force in all Islamic countries. When Radicals took over the holy mosque in Mecca, declaring that the royal family was not Islamic enough to rule, he realized that he had to take action and also lead a more active life in the religion of his country. As ruler of an Islamic country, Fahd he played careful role between being a progressive leader, developing his country's role as a leader in the international world, as well as being a leader in the Islamic world. Towards such ends, he was proclaimed the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques (at Mecca and at Medina), balancing the demands of the modern world with the demands of his deeply religious people, including conservative and liberal clerics as well. This balance worked effectively in his lifetime, despite deep and significant changes in the Arab world over the last 50 years. To keep pace with the modern world, he sent his nephew, Prince Sultan bin Salman, aboard the United States space shuttle "Discovery" in 1985, making him the first Arab and Muslim astronaut. In 1990, he joined with the west to defeat Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, and has allowed western troops to be based in Saudi Arabia, despite intense opposition from religious fundamentalists. As a progressive ruler, he has used the oil wealth of his country to provide free education and free medical treatment to his people. On May 27, 2005, he was admitted to the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, for unspecified medical tests, and it was there that he died on August 1. He is succeeded by his half-brother, Crown Prince Abdullah, who has been the defacto ruler since King Fahd's heart attack in 1995 left him severely ill and unable to participate fully in ruling the country.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson