Prince Faisal bin Fahd
Bin Abdel Aziz
Prince Faisal, son of King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, was born in 1945. He did most of his studies in the Kingdom and obtained a BA in Political Sciences from abroad.
His first job was in 1971 as Head of the Youth Department with ministerial rank. The Labour Ministry was also attached to his Department. Since then, he has had many positions, all within the youth and sport areas. He was successively President of the Arab Football Union, Arabian Football Union, Arabian Olympic Committee, Arab Sports Union and Head of the National Committee on Drugs Control. At the international and regional level, Faisal bin Fahd was nominated Honorary President of the International Swimming Federation. In 1974 he became Chairman of the Arab Ministers’ Council on Youth and of member of the Supreme Council of Youth which was set up that very year. Finally, he acquired the position of President of the Basket Ball Federation. During his term in these positions, he naturally attended a great many sports events including the conferences of the International Football Federation in Munich between 1972 and 1974.
Faisal has been kept in the same position since he was appointed to it in 1971 at the time of King Faisal, when his own father was Interior Minister. In the meantime, his brothers and cousins in the Sudeiri family had been raised to higher offices. In fact, were it not for the present system of succession to the throne, which was established by his grand father King Abdulaziz, Faisal would have had the chance to become king himself, especially as he is well educated. So, why is it that he has been kept in the same position when he is not less eager than his relatives to wield power?
Faisal bin Fahd was connected with the Youth Department at an early age, when the situation of sport in the kingdom was dismal with almost inexistent sport facilities. His appointment at the head of this Department coincided with the oil boom.
The plan was to make sport popular among the youth. But the ultimate objective of the Sudeiris was a long term strategic one. The point was to keep young people busy in order to protect the grip on power by the House of Saud. Many countries, like the former Soviet bloc, used sport as a means to keep their youth away from any political or intellectual activity. Various studies exist which show that the use of sport for such ends put state budgets for games second only to military expenditure in such countries.
As a by-product of this objective, another not less devious goal was sought: the creation of a feeling of national, ‘Saudi’ belonging which would supersede and even marginalize the Arabian youth’s sense of belonging to the wider Arab and Islamic Ummah. For this purpose Saudi Arabia had to fix the ways and means to train a sport-oriented youth which would enable the Kingdom to have access to International events and Olympic games to eventually instil this sense in an ever greater number of youths.
The House of Saud gave Faisal all the prerogatives to attain this goal. With an annual budget of $20 billion for the Youth Department, Faisal embarked on a programme of impressive sport facilities and training and visits to various world-famous clubs were regularly undertaken and Western coaches recruited at great costs. With the assistance of his brother Sultan bin Fahd, Faisal undertook the construction of sport villages, centres and stadia, clubs and fully staffed training facilities of all kinds at a cost considered enough to be meet the nations needs until the year 2000. One particular sports complex occupies an area of 80,000 m2 and cost xxxxxxx1,280 Saudi Riyals.
It accommodates swimming pools, Olympic-standard activity areas, restaurants for 1,000 people and a purpose-made building for the House of Saud and their guests. Faisal had similar complexes built in the other major cities like Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. Alongside these facilities, separate Olympic-grade swimming pools, youth hostels as well as unions and clubs for all sorts of games were set up. At the same time, Faisal undertook to have the Saudi national team and clubs join international federations. It was in this context that, in 1976, he hired the British football coach Jimmy Hill. Hill was given a special budget with prerogatives to train young people of all ages, everywhere in the kingdom. In a move to boost the country’s chance of winning matches and get promoted to higher divisions, Faisal hired several western players at prohibitive costs.
Therefore, the cost of hanging on to power is double: on the one hand, billions of pounds have been spent out of the country’s wealth; on the other hand, through sport the youth is being alienated from its Islamic values and traditions, and is being made redundant intellectually. Not that sport as such is the "opium of the people," but the very policy which underlies it is intentionally devious and harmful. Whereas the Sudeiri brothers— morally and financially corrupt—are banking on time to instil in the youth the a sense of narrow nationalism and regionalism, the late Al-Saud kings can be credited with keeping away from these concepts for religious reasons and because of the kingdom’s religious weight in the Muslim world.
Apart from heading the Sudeiri family’s policy of alienating Saudi youth, Prince Faisal is no exception in the world of financial corruption. His commissions are reported to be 30% of the budget of his Youth Department. This classic way of obtaining commissions is no different from that of his father, uncles, brothers and cousins: a percentage is taken on each project, service and equipment supplies. Another percentage is taken annually on the earnings of each of the facilities. Yet a further source of illegal income comes from the budget devoted to sports events both at home and abroad.
Faisal’s embezzlement was not limited to the sports world and his Department. According to two authors, Nacer Said (History of the House of Saud, Arabic p. 773) and AbderRahman Al-Shamrani (The Scandal Kingdom, Arabic, vol. 2, p. 287), Faisal obtained a commission of $40 million from the European company Philips which was entrusted with the modernization of the country’s telephone system in the seventies. Meanwhile Faisal was involved in the confiscation of poor people’s lands. He is known to have taken 4 million m2 of land along the Jeddah sea shore, while he confiscated the Dammam Project no. 92 which included 92,000 allotments distributed to impoverished people. Property licences were suddenly withdrawn from the beneficiaries overnight without any valid explanation and the lands were given to Prince Faisal. The latter’s embezzlement from real estates is reported to be much higher than the commissions he acquired through his office at the head of the Youth Department.
King Fahd who used to prepare his sons for high offices became desperate about Faisal’s disastrous behaviour. This explains why the King, his father, has decided not to promote him. Indeed Faisal is known to be both a homosexual and a chronic drug addict. For all this, King Fahd reportedly continued to test him. In the hope of getting him to improve, he gave him several sensitive missions to Gorbatchev’s Soviet Union and to communist China under cover of sporting events. But this was to no avail as Faisal continued his drug addition and went even as far as having a drug wing under his control, which led to complaints from various foreign diplomatic and intelligence services to the Saudi authorities, according to a journalist close to the royal family. As a remedy, Faisal was sent to the West for drug addiction treatment. It was at that time that he was appointed president of the Drug Control Committee, a move meant to encourage him to give up taking drugs but, again, to no avail.
In view of his son’s hopelessness, King Fahd decided to groom his other two sons, Muhammed and Abdulaziz bin Fahd, for high positions. Muhammed was then dropped and the King concentrated his attention on Abdulaziz. The latter received $300 million from the state’s budget while his father transferred to him another all his fortune both in real estates and in money—a total estimated to be to the tune of $40 billion. Needless to say that all this aggravated Faisal who saw his chances of promotion gone, perhaps for ever.
Yet, Faisal is not poor: the wealth he stole or was given from the people’s stolen wealth is estimated to be between seven and ten billion dollars. He is still relatively young, so he still may have a lot of time to plunder and become richer.
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