Saudi Arabia; key historical events
Page last modified 4/8/2020
See also Islam and Middle East for links to other countries.
14/9/2019, A drone attack on a major oil refinery at Abqaiq took out 50% of the Kingdom’s oil refining capacity, sending world oil prices uop 20% although they later fell back. The US beleived the drone came directly from Iran, rather than from the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
2/8/2019, Saudi women were allowed to travel abroad without their husband’s permission.
26/9/2017, Saudi Arabia lifted the ban on women driving. From 24/6/2018 women would be allowed to drive there.
5/6/2017, Two weeks after US President Trump visited the Middle East and expressed backing for Saudi Arabia, the Saudis and their allies in the region cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and closed the border. They alleged that Qatar was supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Iran.
2/1/2016, Saudi Arabia announced the execution of a prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr-al-Nimr, along with 46 others accused of promoting violent dissent. There were violent protests by Shia Muslims across the Middle East.
24/9/2015, 717 pilgrims died and 863 were injured in a stampede at Mina during the Haj, Mecca.
11/9/2015, A crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque, Mecca, killing 109 worshippers.
10/3/2011, Saudi police opened fire on protestors.
12/1/2006, 364 pilgrims were killed at the Haj, Mecca, during the ‘stoning of the Devil’ ritual.
2005, King Fahd died, and was succeeded by Crown Prince Abdullah.
1/2/2004, 251 pilgrims were killed at the Haj, Mecca, during a stampede at Mina, in the ‘stoning of the Devil’ ritual.
9/11/2003, In Riyadh a suicide bomber blew up his lorry outside a housing compound, killing 17 people, mostly Saudi expatriate workers.
12/5/2003, Synchronised suicide bombings against four western compounds killed 35 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
15/4/1997, A fire in a tent camp at the Haj in Mecca killed 340 and injured over 1,500.
25/6/1996. Bin Laden’s Al Quaeda group bombed the Khobar Towers HQ of the US Air Force in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. 19 Americans died.
13/11/1995, Seven died as a bomb exploded at a US military base in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
28/1/1991. Iraqi troops invaded the Saudi border town of Khafji, abandoned by its residents as Operation Desert Storm began on 16/1/1991. Allied forces recaptured it on 31/1/1991.
6/11/1990, 14 women staged a protest drive in Saudi Arabia, where women at that time were not allowed to drive cars. They drove a short way out of a supermarket before being stopped and arrested.
2/7/1990. 1,426 Muslims were killed in a stampede in a pedestrian tunnel in Mecca. In 43 Centigrade heat, air conditioning failed in a tunnel containing 5,000 pilgrims. Panic and a stampede broke out, and 1,400 were crushed to death.
31/7/1987, 400 Iranian pilgrims died in clashes with Saudi security forces in Mecca.
28/10/1986, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia dismissed Sheikh Yamani from his post at the Oil Ministry. King Fahd was dissatisfied with the low price Yamani had set for Saudi oil.
13/6/1982. King Khalid of Saudi Arabia died. His brother, Fahd, became King.
9/1/1980, Saudi Arabia beheaded 63 Shi’ite Muslim fanatics for their role in the siege of the Grand Mosque in Mecca from 23 November 1979. 500 armed extremists had held thousands of Muslim pilgrims hostage, and Saudi Arabia feared Iranian attempts to overthrow its government. Iran protested at the executions, and the US was concerned about complications to the Iranian US hostages crisis.
24/11/1979, Saudi troops stormed the Great Mosque in Mecca to evict Iranian religious fanatics.
23/11/1979. Militant Sunni Muslims occupied the Grand Mosque in Mecca, holding out there until 4/12/1979. After false radio reports on 21/11/1979 that US forces had taken the Grand Mosque, the US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, was attacked by a mob and set on fire, killing four people.
1975, A ‘neutral zone’ between Saudi Arabia and Iraq was divided between the two countires.
25/3/1975. In Saudi Arabia, King Faisal was assassinated by his 31-year-old mentally deranged nephew, and Crown Prince Khalid Ibn Abdul Aziz acceded to the throne. The US had regarded Faisal as a moderating influence in the unstable Middle East.
1966, A ‘neutral zone’ between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait was divided between the two countries.
2/11/1964. King Faisal became King of Saudi Arabia, succeeding his brother, King Saud, who had abdicated.
21/12/1960. King Saud took over the Saudi Arabian government.
14/7/1958. King Faisal of Iraq was assassinated in a military coup led by General Kasseem, and a Republic was declared.
9/11/1953, King Ibn Saud (1880-1953) of Saudi Arabia died aged 73; the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is named after him. He was succeeded by his son, Saud Ibn Abdel Aziz.
1938, The first oil was found in Saudi Arabia, in commercial quaitities, a mile underground at Dhahran.
31/12/1935, King Salman of Saudi Arabia was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
20/5/1934, A brief war between Saudi Arabia under Prince Faisal and Yemen under Imam Yahya over possession of Asir province ended with victory to Saudi Arabia. The moderate terms of the peace treaty imposed by Faisal ensured friendly relations between him and Yahya for life.
6/5/1934. Saudi Arabian forces captured the Yemeni city of Hodeida. On 13/5/1934 Saudi Arabia signed a truce with Yemen in Jeddah.
20/9/1932, The Sultanate of Nejd, the Kingdom of Hejaz, and their conquered dependencies were united as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
4/6/1931, Ibn Hussein, King of the Hejaz, died.
20/5/1927. Britain recognised the independence of Saudi Arabia, under the Treaty of Jeddah.
8/1/1926. The new King, Ibn Saud, 43, renamed Hejaz as Saudi Arabia.
17/12/1925, The siege of Jeddah ended in victory for Ibn Saud.
5/12/1925, Medina capitulated to Ibn Saud.
20/10/1924, Ibn Saud seized control of Mecca, defeating the Hashemites.
3/10/1924, In Arabia, King Hussein abdicated as King of Hejaz in favour of his son, Ali.
1922, Exploration for oil began in Saudi Arabia.
1/1/1917, Britain, France and Italy recognised the Kingdom of Hejaz in Arabia.
9/6/1916. Sherif Hussein of Mecca led a revolt against the Ottoman Turks. The Arabs were angered by the Young Turks nationalist and secular policies.
29/11/1916, The Sheriff of Mecca, Hussein, was proclaimed King of the Arabs.
21/6/1916. Hussein, the Grand Sheikh of Mecca, declared war on Ottoman Turkey with the aim of achieving Arabia’s independence from Britain.
1912, Abd-el-Wahab founded the frst of many co-operastove farming communities, known as Ikhwaan (Brethren). Providing the Bedouin with a more settled existence, these communities also assured a supply of soldiers for the defence of the Saudi Kingdom.
20/1/1902, The beginnings of Saudi Arabia. The Bedouin warrior, Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, 20-year old Emir of the Wahhabi, seized Riyadh, capital of the Nejd. He became a focus for the Arab nationalist movement.
11/3/1868, Emir Talal of Arabia, suffering from an incurable illness, committed suicide.
1806, The Wahabis took Mecca.
14/10/1802, Emir Sbdul Aziz of Arabia, aged 82, was murdered by a Shia fanatic.
1760, The Wahabi branch of Islam was founded by Muslim scholar, Abd-el-Wahab (1703-92). He wanted to restore a pure, original, version of Islam, His teachings gained credence across much of the Arabian Peninsula.
639, A few thousand Muslims entered Alexandria, and Egypt soon adopted the new religion.
8/6/632. Mohammed died, aged about 62. He was buried in Mecca. See 16/7/622.
16/7/622. The traditional starting day of the Islamic era, when Mohammad fled persecution in Mecca for the city of Medina, then known as Yattrib. This flight is called the Hejirah. In Arabia around 610, Mohammed had called for an end to the demons and idols of the Arab religion and to convert to monotheistic worship of Allah. Born around 570, Mohammed was of the Quraysh tribe, a Bedouin tribe in the Arabian peninsula. This tribe occupied Mecca, a wealthy caravan trading centre, and Mohammed was married to a wealthy widow. Arabs also came to Mecca to worship at the Kaaba, a black meteoric stone of which the Qurayshi are guardians. Mohammed denounced the idol worship associated with the Kaaba, and made enemies of some wealthy merchants, especially with his calls to help the poor. Mohammed died on 8/6/632. He saw himself as an instrument of God. His new religion was called Islam, meaning submission; its adherents were Moslems, or those who submit. In 630 the citizens of Mecca accepted his new religion; in return Mohammed agreed that the Kaaba should remain as a place of pilgrimage for Moslems.
595, Mohammed, a 25-year-old camel driver, married his wealthy 40-year-old employer, the widow Khadija.
570, Mohammed was born.