Birthplace: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (then Arabia)
Best known as: King of Saudi Arabia, 2005-
King Abdullah became the king of Saudi Arabia on 1 August 2005, following the death of his half-brother King Fahd. Abdullah, like Fahd, was one of the many sons of Ibn Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia. (Abdullah's mother was Fahda, the eighth of Ibn Saud's 16 wives.) Abdullah held important political posts throughout most of his adult life; he became mayor of Mecca as a young man and in 1962 he was appointed commander of the National Guard, a post he was still holding when he became king. He also served as deputy defense minister and was name crown prince when Fahd took the throne in 1982. Where Fahd was sometimes criticized for being too fond of western-style luxuries, Abdullah is regarded as a devout Muslim and a charismatic leader. After King Fahd suffered a serious stroke in 1995, Abdullah became the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia until claiming the throne a decade later.
Extra credit: Abdullah is the sixth king of Saudi Arabia, following Abdul Aziz (Ibn Saud, 1932-53), Saud (1953-64), Faisal (1964-75), Khalid (1975-82), and Fahd (1982-2005)... Upon taking the throne in 2005, Abdullah name another half-brother, Prince Sultan, as the crown prince... According to a 2001 report in The Christian Science Monitor, Abdullah "has four wives, seven sons, and 15 daughters"... Some sources list his birth year as 1923; according to a 2005 story on CNN.com, "The exact date is unknown because no exact records of births or deaths were kept at the time in what was then an impoverished desert land."
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