A sense of home – and having to leave – the second Saudi era

Five years later, in 1824, Imam ibn Turki ibn Abdullah recaptured the area and set up a Saudi capital in Riyadh for the first time. The Saudi’s influence grew strong again as the tribal conflicts continued. Riyadh became a political and economic centre, although still a very small settlement, consisting of one, two and three storey adobe houses and palaces. It was into this environment that Abdul-Aziz was born. Little did he know that he too would be driven out of his home. In 1891, the Al-Rashid and their allies from the north, who had been rivals of the Al-Saud for over 100 years, succeeded in capturing Riyadh, and Abdul-Aziz and his father Imam Abdul-Rahman fled to Kuwait, where they were given shelter by Sheikh Mubarak.

Aged only fifteen, Abdul-Aziz was a refugee. And like many refugees his only thought was to return home. In these formative years, he listened carefully to what went on in Mubarak’s court, learned the intricacies of tribal politics and family feuds (witnessing first-hand, assassinations and the like). He also learned about international diplomacy. At this time the British had an exclusive treaty with Kuwait and Abdul-Aziz was party to many important negotiations concerning control of the Gulf and the passage to India.

Armed with this knowledge, but little else more than his desire to retake his homeland, Abdul-Aziz set out from Kuwait in late 1901 aged only 26, and headed for Riyadh with a small band of followers. His finest hour was soon to arrive.

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