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Fahad played pivotal role in development

KING Fahad bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud witnessed the formation of modern-day Saudi Arabia as a child and grew up to play a pivotal role in its development. He was born in Riyadh in 1923, while his father, Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud was completing his unification of the land which was to formally become Saudi Arabia in 1932.

His first formal schooling was at the Prince's School in Riyadh, which was established by his father. His education was founded on a solid basis of Islam, Arab history and culture.

The then Prince Fahad completed his education at the Religious Knowledge Institute in Mecca.

His first appearance on the international stage was in 1945, when he attended the signing of the United Nations charter in New York, as part of the Saudi delegation led by the then Foreign Minister, later King, Faisal.

In 1953 he became the country's first Education Minister and was charged with establishing a nationwide educational system.

He continued to represent Saudi Arabia abroad, leading the Saudi delegation to the coronation of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

In 1962 Prince Fahad became Interior Minister and represented Saudi Arabia at a meeting of Arab Head of States in Egypt in 1965.

He became Second Deputy Prime Minister in 1967 and Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister in 1975.

Prince Fahad continued to play a major role in international affairs, meeting presidents and prime ministers from the Middle East and other nations, including the US.

His plan for the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict was published in 1981 and formally presented to the Arab Summit later that year.

He became King on June 13, 1982 and although his main concern was ensuring the security and stability of Saudi Arabia, he also gave international affairs high priority.

Among the issues he became involved in were efforts to end Lebanon's civil war and the conflict in the Balkans. He also gave financial support to the Palestinian intifada.

Links with Bahrain were strengthened on November 11, 1982, when he laid the cornerstone for the King Fahad Causeway with the late Amir HH Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

It was opened four years later.

King Fahad was committed to philanthropic activities and donated to many worthy causes, both in Saudi Arabia and abroad.

These included the donation of almost three million barrels of oil to the drought and famine-hit Sudan at an estimated cost of $62m (BD23.4m) in 1986 and $100m (BD37.8m) in aid for victims of a cyclone in Bangladesh in 1991.

His attention was also caught by individuals in need, including three-year-old Briton Stuart Masters.

His £75,000 (BD50,625) bowel and liver transplant was funded by King Fahad in 1993.

Religion was extremely important to King Fahad. Among the projects he launched were the extension of the Holy Mosque in Mecca, the expansion of the Prophet's Mosque in Madina and the creation of the King Fahad Complex for Printing the Holy Quran.

He was also involved in religious activities abroad, which included funding the restoration of sites of religious significance in Jerusalem.

In 1986 King Fahad adopted the title Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

Political development was not forgotten and in September 1992 King Fahad named the first speaker of the new Consultative Council.

The council itself was opened in 1993 with 60 members. It now has 120 members who can initiate legislation and review the domestic and foreign policies of the government. The regional government was also restructured.

Substantial resources were targeted at education and healthcare at all levels under King Fahad's leadership.

Efforts were also made to diversify the economy.



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