Abdullah Suleiman

Abdullah Suleiman

Abdullah Suleiman

Perhaps the most important of Ibn Saud’s advisers was Sheikh Abdullah Suleiman, the Finance Minister. Abdullah Suleiman was from Unaizah in Nejd. As a youth he travelled to Bombay in search of adventure and fortune. After Bombay he headed for Bahrain, where he set up a small business of his own. (The business was not a great success.) Looking for more secure employment, he sought a position in Ibn Saud’s Domestic Court – as an assistant to his uncle, a finance clerk.

 

He showed immediate flair for financial administration, and on his uncle’s death, took over the post. Ibn Saud recognized Abdullah Suleiman’s abilities and appointed him Finance Minister, wholly responsible for the state treasury.

 

When Ibn Saud conquered the Hijaz in 1926, Abdullah Suleiman travelled with him to organize the financial repercussions of this extension of Ibn Saud’s domain. He was confronted by an established bureaucracy of much greater sophistication than the one used in Nejd. It is a tribute to his ability and hard work that the finances of the Hijaz and Nejd were linked together with so little trouble. From 1926, Abdullah Suleiman was based permanently in the Hijaz, while Ibn Saud’s Court remained in Riyadh.

 

Although always modest and self-effacing, Abdullah Suleiman wielded considerable power and influence. His devotion to Ibn Saud was absolute and he worked unremittingly for the good of the Kingdom. He constructed the bases for the Kingdom’s finances and administration until, eventually he controlled all the directorates. He laid the foundations for the development of the Ministries through which today the affairs of the Kingdom are managed.

 

Towards the end of Ibn Saud’s reign, when the country began to enjoy the benefit of oil revenues, it was necessary to introduce more sophisticated accounting systems, consistent with the requirements of an expanding economy. The base of administrative and financial control was broadened, as others were given responsibility for some of the areas over which Abdullah Suleiman had held sway. Eventually a few years after Ibn Saud’s death, Abdullah Suleiman withdrew from government into a well-earned retirement.

 

 

 



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