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Royalty in Saudi Arabia

The monarchs of Saudi Arabia since the kingdom's founding in 1932:

King Abdulaziz
(also known as Ibn Saud)
Reigned 1932-1953

King Saud
(son of King Abdul Aziz)
Reigned 1953-1964; deposed

King Faisal
(son of King Abdul Aziz)
Reigned 1964-1975; assassinated

King Khalid
(son of King Abdul Aziz)
Reigned 1975-1982

King Fahd
(son of King Abdul Aziz)
Reigned 1982-2005

King Abdullah
(son of King Abdul Aziz)
Reigned 2005-2015

King Salman
(son of King Abdul Aziz)
Reigned 2015-Present

Books About Saudi Arabia

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Book Categories: MBS, Royalty, Saudi History, Ibn Saud, Saudis & America, King Faisal, Bandar, Alwaleed, Saudi Women, DVDs, Middle East

Mohammed bin Salman

MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman by Ben Hubbard. How a mysterious young prince emerged from Saudi Arabia's royal family to overhaul the society - and gather power into his own hands. Published in 2020.

Blood and Oil: Mohammed bin Salman's Ruthless Quest for Global Power by Bradley Hope & Justin Scheck. How MBS's rise coincided with the fraying of U.S.-Saudi relations. Published in 2020.

Behind the Kingdom's Veil: Inside the New Saudi Arabia Under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by Susanne Koelbl. How religious extremism and oppression of women support a single goal - preserving the House of Saud. Published in 2020.

The Killer Prince by Owen Wilson. In 2018, journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered. Was Saudi Arabia's crown prince involved in the crime? Published in 2021.

The Son King: Reform and Repression in Saudi Arabia by Madawi Al-Rasheed. A critical look at Muhammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's reformist crown prince. Published in 2021.

Mohammed bin Salman: The Icarus of Saudi Arabia? by David B. Ottaway. Is Mohammed bin Salman a monarch-to-be without scruples, or a visionary seeking global power? Published in 2021.

Saudi Royalty

On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines - and Future by Karen Elliot House. The author interviewed key members of the royal family. She writes about what the next generation of royal princes might bring as the kingdom faces its future. Published in 2012.

Wahhabism and the Rise of the House of Saud by Tarik Firro. Examines the role of the first Saudi king and his successors in the fundamentalist Islamic movement.

Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia by Robert Lacey. How the 1970s oil boom produced a society at war with itself. This is a 2010 book, not a revision of Lacey's 1981 book about Saudi Arabia (see below).

The Kingdom by Robert Lacey. Banned in Saudi Arabia, this is the inside story of the royal family's private scandals and public excesses. Published in 1983.

The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud From Tradition to Terror by Stephen Schwartz. Traces the rise Wahhabism and its bond with the House of Saud. The paperback edition is subtitled "Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role in Terrorism." Published in 2002.

The House of Saud: The Rise & Rule of the Most Powerful Dynasty in the Arab World by David Holden and Richard Johns. Published in 1982.

The Saudi Royal Family by Brenda Lange, Jennifer Bond Reed. Nonfiction for young adult readers, published in 2007.


Regime Stability in Saudi Arabia: The Challenge of Succession by Stig Stenslie. Provides insight into the issues facing the royal family and ruling elite. Published in 2011.

Succession in Saudi Arabia by Joseph A. Kechichian. Identifies individuals with greatest leadership potential; examines their political, social, and religious perceptions; and evaluates the criteria for the survival of the ruling family. Published in 2001.

Saudi History & Society

A History of Saudi Arabia by Madawi al-Rasheed. Covers Saudi Arabia's history from the age of emirates to 21st century.

Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis by John R. Bradley. From the homes of royalty to the slums of the poorest inhabitants, this book reveals Saudi Arabia's regional, religious, and tribal rivalries.

The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom by Sandra Mackey. Offers a glimpse into Saudi social and public life, revealing a country grappling with modernity and battling to maintain its stance in the world.

Saudi Arabia: From Bedouin Beginnings to Modern Kingdom by Gene Lindsey. Overview of the culture, history, evolution and development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by David E. Long. Discusses the people, their religion, culture, history, politics, economics, and foreign policy.

Prophets and Princes: Saudi Arabia From Muhammad to the Present by Mark Weston. History of a complex society where citizens who seek a constitutional monarchy can petition the king without fear of reprisal.

Books About the Middle East
Books About the Ottoman Empire

Ibn Saud

Ibn Saud: The Desert Warrior and His Legacy by Michael Darlow and Barbara Bray. After a harsh life as a desert nomad, Ibn Saud transformed himself into the revered first king of Saudi Arabia.

Ibn Saud: King by Conquest by Nestor Sander. Biography of the founder of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Lord of Arabia: Ibn Saud: An Intimate Study of a King by H. C. Armstrong. Another biography of King Ibn Saud.

The Ottoman Gulf: The Creation of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, 1870-1914 by Frederick Fallowfield Anscombe examines the role the Ottoman Empire played in the creation of modern Gulf states.

The Struggle for Power in Arabia: Ibn Saud, Hussein and Great Britain, 1914-1924 by Haifa Alangari.

The Rise and Fall of the Hashimite Kingdom of Arabia by Joshua Teitelbaum. The Hashemite Kingdom of Arabia was forged during the First World War. Its leader, Sharif Husayn ibn 'Ali, proclaimed himself king of the Arab countries. Ibn Saud defeated him in 1925.


King Abdul Aziz: Political Correspondence, 1904-1953 edited by A. Burdett. Four-volume set of letters to and from the first king of Saudi Arabia. Extremely expensive.

King Abdul Aziz: Diplomacy and Statecraft 1902-1953 edited by A. Burdett. Original documents from British official sources depict the policy decisions and diplomatic skills of Saudi Arabia's founder. (Wildly expensive.)

Books About Iraq
Books About Gertrude Bell & Lawrence of Arabia
Books About the Ottoman Empire

Saudi Royals & America

Kings and Presidents: Saudi Arabia and the United States Since FDR by Bruce Riedel. Since 1943, U.S. presidents have had direct relationships with Saudi kings. This book is based on declassified documents, memoirs, and eyewitness accounts.

House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties by Craig Unger. Investigates the 30-year relationship between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family, and its impact on America.

Saudis, U.S., & Oil

From Arab Nationalism to OPEC by Nathan J. Citino examines how the relationship of King Sa'ud and President Eisenhower affected U.S.-Saudi relations.

The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East by Andrew Scott Cooper. How the U.S., the last shah of Iran, and the Saudi royal family maneuvered to control events in the Middle East in the 1970s.

Princes, Brokers, and Bureaucrats: Oil and the State in Saudi Arabia by Steffen Hertog. How the elite rivalries and whims of the mid-20th century have shaped the modern Saudi state and fragmented it into uncoordinated fiefdoms.

Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude by Robert Baer. Alleges that the royal family spends staggering amounts of money to influence American politicians and dissuade militant Islamic groups from overthrowing the monarchy.

The Rise, Corruption and Coming Fall of the House of Saud by Said K. Aburish. The author says the USA is committed to keeping a king on the Saudi Arabian throne who will ensure that the oil continues to flow. Published in 1995.

War and Terrorism

The Battle for Saudi Arabia: Royalty, Fundamentalism, and Global Power by As'ad Abukhalil. Examines Saudi society, history, religion, and ethnic tribalism.

Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America's War on Terror by U.S. Senator Bob Graham. Alleges that a funding chain for terrorism led to the Saudi royal family.

Secrets of the Kingdom: The Inside Story of the Secret Saudi-U.S. Connection by Gerald Posner. Reveals the ties that bind the Saudi and U.S. governments, including preferential treatment to prominent Saudis living in the United States after 9/11.

Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11 by Gerald Posner. Includes allegations that members of the Saudi royal family were linked to terrorists.

Plan of Attack: The Definitive Account of the Decision to Invade Iraq by Bob Woodward. Alleges that Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar bin Sultan knew about top-secret U.S. plans to attack Iraq before the U.S. secretary of state did.

King Faisal

Faisal: King of Saudi Arabia by Gerald De Gaury. This biography places King Faisal's life story in context of the Middle East and the world.

Faysal: Saudi Arabia's King for All Seasons by Joseph Kechichian. The first biography of King Faysal to make use of interviews and key documents.

King Faisal of Saudi Arabia: Personality, Faith and Times by Alexei Vassiliev. Biography of a pious, cautious, and resolute leader who steered Saudi Arabia through a minefield of problems from 1964 to 1975.

King Faisal and the Modernisation of Saudi Arabia by Willard A. Beling. Papers presented at a 1978 conference describe the end of bedouin-style Arabia.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan

The Prince: The Secret Story of the World's Most Intriguing Royal, Prince Bandar bin Sultan by William Simpson. Biography of Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, who was ambassador to the United States from 1983-2005. The author is the prince's college friend. Preface by Nelson Mandela; foreword by Margaret Thatcher.

The King's Messenger: Prince Bandar bin Sultan and America's Tangled Relationship With Saudi Arabia by David B. Ottaway. For decades, the complex relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia centered around Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the U.S.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

Alwaleed: Businessman, Billionaire, Prince by Riz Khan. Biography of Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who was ranked by Forbes magazine in 2005 as the fifth richest person in the world.


Driving the Saudis: A Chauffeur's Tale of the World's Richest Princesses by Jayne Amelia Larson. The author worked as a driver for Saudi royal family members vacationing in Beverly Hills.

Desert Governess by Phyllis Ellis is about an Englishwoman's personal experience with the Saudi royal family.

Books by Jean Sasson

Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean P. Sasson. This biography of a member of the Saudi royal family, called Princess Sultana to disguise her identity, exposes the harsh reality of life in a country where even royal women are despised and oppressed. Fascinating.

Princess Sultana's Daughters by Jean Sasson turns the spotlight on Princess Sultana's teenage daughters. (Sometimes titled "Daughters of Arabia.")

Princess Sultana's Circle by Jean P. Sasson. Another book in Sasson's series about the lives of Saudi royal women. (This book is also sometimes titled "Desert Royal.")

Princess: More Tears to Cry by Jean Sasson. Princess Sultana speaks frankly about her strong-willed daughters, her beloved husband, and the royal Al-Saud family, whose battles about what it means to be a woman mirror those of Saudi society.

Princess: Secrets to Share by Jean Sasson. Princess Sultana, her friends and family step forward to rescue young women who are cruelly mistreated.

Princess: Stepping Out of the Shadows by Jean Sasson. A look at how Saudi women still suffer horrific abuse, along with updates on the Princess's family. Published in 2018.


These DVDs are formatted for North American audiences.

Frontline: Black Money. This 2009 PBS documentary alleges Saudi royal connection to corporate corruption. (See the "Other Websites" list below for a link to watch this show online.)

Charlie Rose With Alwaleed bin Talal. An hour-long interview with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the richest men in the world and a grandson of the founding king of Saudi Arabia.

An Exposé of the Saudi Arabian Prince: Alwaleed - Billionaire & Businessman. Directed by Riz Khan.

Documentaries and Movies About World Royalty

Related Topics

Royalty in the Middle East
Royalty in Iraq
Worldwide Royal News
The Ottoman Empire
Royalty in History

Other Websites

Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
Frontline - House of Saud
Wikipedia - Saudi Arabia
Saudi Royal Family Directory
Frontline - Black Money (documentary)
Other Middle East News Sites

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