King Salman: Key facts
- Born on 31 December 1935
- Son of Princess Hassa al-Sudairi
- Governor of Riyadh from 1955-1960 and again from 1963 to 2011
- Appointed defence minister upon death of his brother Crown Prince Sultan
- Owns important stake in one of the Arab world’s largest media groups
King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud acceded to the Saudi throne on the death of his half-brother, King Abdullah.
He was governor of Riyadh province for 48 years before becoming defence minister in 2011 and crown prince a year later.
Aged 79 when he came to the throne, he had already taken on the duties of the king as Abdullah’s health faded.
King Salman is part of an influential faction within the royal family formed of sons and grandsons of the late King Abdulaziz (usually referred to as Ibn Saud) by a favorite wife, Princess Hassa al-Sudairi.
After the deaths of the former king, Fahd, who ruled from 1982 until 2005, and two previous crown princes, Sultan and Nayef, Salman was already the most powerful surviving member of this faction.
As governor of Riyadh, he oversaw its transformation from an isolated desert town into a crowded city of skyscrapers, universities and Western fast-food chains.
The post raised his international profile as he hosted visiting VIPs and envoys and helped secure foreign investment.
As defence minister he was head of the Saudi military as it joined the US and other Arab countries in air strikes in Syria in 2014 against the Islamic State militant group.
King Salman’s sons include:
- Prince Mohammed, whom he has appointed defence minister and head of the royal court
- Deputy Oil Minister Prince Abdulaziz
- Prince Faisal, the governor of Medina
- Prince Sultan, the head of the tourism authority and a former Royal Saudi Air Force pilot and astronaut.