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Abdullah Al-Tariki: A Profile from the Archives

[From the Saudi newspaper: Al-Yaum] [From the Saudi newspaper: Al-Yaum]

”A Profile from the Archives“  is a series published by Jadaliyya in both Arabic and English in cooperation with the Lebanese newspaper, Assafir. These profiles will feature iconic figures who left indelible marks in the politics and culture of the Middle East and North Africa. This profile was originally published in Arabic and was translated by Mazen Hakeem.]

Name: Abdullah

Last Name: Al-Tariki

Father’s Name: Hammoud

Mother’s Name: Lo’lo’a

Date of Birth: 1919

Date of Death: 1997

Nationality: Saudi

Place of Birth: Al-Zalfi

Category: Politician

Profession: Minister


Abdullah Al-Tariki

  • Born on 19 March 1919, in the town of Al-Zalfi, Saudi Arabia. 
  • His second wife is Maha Jounblat (Lebanese).
  • Moved to Kuwait in 1924, and went to Al-Ahmadia elementary school. He stayed in this school for five years.
  • Traveled to India in 1929 with one of the traders and worked with him for a period of time. He then got a scholarship in Egypt.
  • Traveled to Cairo in 1933 to study and finished high school in 1938. After that, he went to Fouad I University to study chemistry.
  • Obtained a scholarship to study in the United States of America where he enrolled at the University of Texas. He earned a Masters degree in geology in 1947 majoring in petroleum engineering. His thesis was titled “Geology of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
  • While in the United States, he also interned in Texaco company in California between 1945 and 1948. Once his internship ended, he returned to Saudi Arabia.
  • Worked as an official responsible for auditing government accounts from oil revenues at Aramco in Dharan, where he came across caches that affect the interests of the Saudi government. He worked to change them through his post as a General Manager for Oil and Minerals Affairs in 1954, which led him to be at odds with Aramco. His disclosure of oil companies’ flaws played a part in the media controversy towards him.
  • The tripartite aggression against Egypt in 1956 did not pass without him asserting his point of view that Arab petrol is an effective weapon, which he pressed Aramco on. On his suggestion, King Saud ordered the halt of Saudi oil supplies to Britain and France. With this, he earned a privileged position in the Arab world.
  • In 1959, he headed the Saudi delegation to Arab Oil Council.
  • In 1960 and 1961, he was appointed as Minister of Petroleum and thus, became the first minister of petroleum in the kingdom’s government. In this capacity, he contributed, along with the Pérez Alfonso, Venezuelan Minister of Petroleum, to the inception and creation of OPEC with the aim of defending the interests oil producing and exporting countries in the face of foreign companies and to utilize petroleum resources in development programs in these countries.
  • Between 1965 and 1970, he published Arab Petroleum magazine which carried the slogan: "Arab petroleum is for Arabs."
  • Dismissed from his post after pressure from the United States of America following his pressuring of Aramco, which had invested heavily in the Kingdom's oil fields.
  • Lived in Beirut between 1963 and 1980, then moved to Cairo in 1991 where he settled with his wife and his daughter, Haya. He worked as an oil counselor for a number of Arab companies, including the United Arab Emirates.
  • A group of his friends established Abdullah Al-Tariki’s Endowment. The Center of Arab Unity Studies was assigned to manage this endowment. Some of the returns of this endowment were used to publish his complete works and to establish a prize in his name, the first one was awarded to Dr. Yousef Sayegh on 19 March 2000.
  • “Al-Tariki’s unforgettable positions in Algeria before the aggression of 5 June 1967” citing Abdul RahmanAl-Moneef, Al-Tariki’s friend, (Assafir newspaper, 18 September 1997).
  • In the symposium that the Arab socialists held in late May 1967, the main slogan he raised in this symposium was “boycotting the West and America and using oil as a weapon in the battle.”
  • He called for a framework of optimal use for Arab oil, both in the producing country itself and on a regional level. This entailed capping production in proportion to the needs of the producing county for development. He argued that rapid and unjust exploitation, in accordance with the desires of monopolistic companies and their countries, would only waste this resource.
  • Emphasized a national policy which prioritizes the internal national situation followed by the Arab regional situation.
  • Of his quotes: “The West is ready to export the industry of hunger to our societies,” Al-Qabbas, 1 January 2000. 

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