Saudi Arabia - History & Background
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HISTORY & BACKGROUND
Saudi Arabia was formed in September 1932, when representatives from the Kingdom of the Hijaz sent a petition to Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd al-Rahman ibn Faisal Al Saud (Ibn Saud), Sultan of the Nejd, requesting the union of the kingdom and sultanate as a single nation in faith, history, and traditions. King Ibn Saud issued a decree on September 18, 1932, proclaiming the new nation of Saudi (Saud's) Arabia. The Arabian Peninsula is the historic birthplace of the Islam religion. The Ottoman Turks from Constantinople ruled the Hijaz from the sixteenth century to 1918. The interior regions of desert and oases, known as the Nejd, were home to various tribal families competing against each other. The eighteenth century teachings of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, a Muslim reformer, who wanted a pure undistorted Islam rejecting the glorification of men, saints, and prophets, were incorporated into the Saud family's political ideology as it conquered the Nejd.
After World War I, Ibn Saud lay claim to the Hijaz kingdom ruled by the Hashemite family, direct descendants of the Prophet Muhammad and Sharifs (Guardians) of the sacred cities Makkah and Madinah. The unpopularity of the King of the Hijaz, British indifference in the region, and the superior military skills of the Saud family and its allies led to their successful 1926 conquest of the Hijaz and Islam's holy cities. Ibn Saud, the first King of Saudi Arabia, consolidated his military control over the Arabian Peninsula by numerous marriages to the daughters of important Arab families and the fathering of 43 sons and at least 20 daughters. The nation's strategic geographic location astride the Red Sea and the Persian (Arabian) Gulf and its control of half of the world's oil supply made the kingdom an important ally for the United States during the Cold War and an economic ally in the global economy of the twenty-first century.