Tuesday, February 8, 2011

King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud

King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is the most influential Muslim in the world. Saudi Arabia is geopolitically important as the most powerful Arab nation in the region. King Abdullah also garners influence globally for Saudi Arabia’s international role as an exporter of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
King Abdullah has significant influence in the global Muslim community through his custodianship of the two holy sites of Mecca and Medina. Mecca is the main pilgrimage site for 1.5 billion Muslims-of which 2.4 million fulfill their religious obligation annually.

Controls World’s Largest Oil Reserves
King Abdullah reigns over a land of massive crude oil reserves - Saudi Arabia has approximately 25 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves-making him a key player in the global petroleum industry.

Controls Largest Da’wa Network
King Abdullah is also head of the most extensive da’wa network of missionary Muslims in the world, promoting the Salafi brand of Islam. Salafism is historically rooted in Saudi Arabia, and owes its global spread to financial backing from the Saudi Royal Family

King Abdullah has proven his domestic influence in Saudi Arabia through his ability to enact multiple landmark reforms to fight corruption, balance the Saudi budget, tailor the education system, address women’s and minority rights, engage in interreligious diplomacy as well as tackle problems in the justice system. He has:

• Appended the Baya Council; a 38-man family council to legitimize the process of choosing successors to the Saudi throne.
• Cleaned up corruption in the Saudi Royal Family.
• Increased the representation of minorities in Saudi governance, including increased Shi‘a representation in the Shura Council.
• Given women a voice and increased their social participation.
• Taken educational administration out of the hands of religious leaders and gave authority instead to the educational establishment.
• Presented a $10 billion endowment for the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
• Systematically replaced hard-line Salafi judges with moderate leaders in the Saudi court system. Employed personal interventions within the justice system- in particular regard to marriages.
• Cut the funding power of the morality police.
• Convened a global interfaith summit in 2008 and subsequently issued the Madrid Declaration, which calls for tolerance between religions and a culture of peace.
• The first Saudi monarch in 51 years to address the UN General Assembly and the first reigning Saudi monarch to have met with a pope, Pope Benedict XVI in November 2007.
• Donates to all poor in the world. He donated $50 million in cash and $10 million-worth of relief materials for the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake in China and pledged a $1 billion donation towards the reconstruction of the Palestinian coastal territory during the Israeli war on Gaza.

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