The Rise of Saudi Arabia: From Ibn Saud to the Export of Wahhabism

TLDR The rise of Saudi Arabia was marked by the successful march on Riyadh by Ibn Saud in 1902, leading to the birth of modern Saudi Arabia. The influence of Wahhabism and Deobandis, the complicated relationship with the British, the control of Mecca and Medina, and the introduction of oil by Harry St. John Philby were all significant factors in the rise of Saudi Arabia.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 This section of the podcast introduces the topic of the rise of Saudi Arabia and the guest, Steve Cole, who will discuss it.
05:15 In 1902, Ibn Saud organized a march on Riyadh, successfully chasing away the tribe that occupied the city and declaring the rebirth of Saudi Arabia, marking the birth of modern Saudi Arabia, while also being an enemy of the Sharif of Mecca and rejecting the legitimacy of their rule.
11:06 Wahhabism and Deobandis emerged as similar forms of Puritanical Islam, reacting against the excesses and syncretic practices of their time, leading to the rise of clerical influence and rule in Saudi Arabia, where rulers interpreted Islam to suit their own lifestyles while preaching austerity to the public.
16:00 Ibn Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia, had a complicated relationship with the British who wanted influence in Arabia but didn't trust him, and although British emissaries had accounts of him, they didn't see Riyadh as a place to build their empire and quickly moved on.
20:57 Jeddah was a global city and the center of merchants and culture in the region, with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims passing through each year, and it was through a deal with the British, specifically with Harry St. John Philby, that Ibn Saud was able to gain influence and access to Ford automobiles, which played a significant role in his rise to power.
26:08 Ibn Saud invades the Hajjahs, with weakened support from the British, and successfully takes control of Mecca and Medina with the help of the Ikhwan militia.
31:27 Ibn Saud and the Ikhwan militia take control of Mecca and Medina, destroying idolatrous shrines, and gain control over the tax revenues and business opportunities associated with the religious sites.
36:35 Harry Philby becomes the exclusive agent for SoCal, an American oil company, and guides them through Arabia, while also becoming increasingly alienated from his British homeland and introducing Ibn Saud to the oil age.
41:48 Harry St. John Philby cuts a deal with the Americans for oil rights in eastern Saudi Arabia, alienating himself from Britain and satisfying Ibn Saud, while Mohammed bin Laden ingratiates himself with Ibn Saud and becomes a palace builder for the royal family.
46:38 As Ibn Saud's health declines, he builds palaces with ramps for his wheelchair and relies on airplanes for travel, while facing the challenge of succession and ultimately choosing his son Faisal as his successor.
51:52 Ibn Saud arranges a succession plan that would pass power from eldest to youngest son, making Faisal the prime minister and Saud the king, while the export of Wahhabism begins after World War II, leading to the rise of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Categories: History

The Rise of Saudi Arabia: From Ibn Saud to the Export of Wahhabism

43. The Birth of Saudi Arabia
by Empire

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