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For all practical purposes Saudi Arabia is a closed country to the Christian world.

(pg 69)

In World War II, as in World War I, which preceded his possession of the Holy Cities, Ibn Saud has preserved a benevolent neutrality. This was fortunate for the British. Before the war, had Ibn Saud fallen in with the Axis, which spared no effort to persuade him to do so, it might have proved difficult, if not impossible, to eject the Italians from Ethiopia and Eritrea. If Ibn Saud had wavered a year ago, the pro- Axis revolt in Iraq, which later turned out to be the preface to Iraq’s entry into the war on the united Nations’ side, might have had very different consequences.

(pg 71)

Fundamentalist Moslems. Who form the backbone of the country, regard even hymns as sacrilegious and would not credit Satan himself with permitting a woman to sing torch songs for public Consumption.

(pg 72)

His conquest of the (e.g. Muslim) Holy Land, as Moslems call the strip of Arabia that lies along the central Red Sea coast, completed his restoration of the old Saud kingdom. Shortly afterward he undertook his minor war with the Imam Yahya of Yemen, not for reasons of aggrandizement but to teach that somewhat unpredictable monarch a good lesson which Ibn Saud improved by granting a generous peace.

(pg 76)

As a further incentive to good behavior Ibn Saud revived the old Koranic penalties for theft and murder, i.e. amputation and beheading.

(pg 78)

While obeying the Koran’s restrictions as to marriage, the King has also obeyed its rather more generous provisions for divorce. Thus, while he has never had more than four wives at any given time, and usually only three to leave room for additions, the king has had between 100 and 200 wives in the course of his adult lifetime. Furthermore, still in accord with Moslem law and Arab convention, he has always maintained a capacious harem of non-Moslem concubines, mainly populated by Sudanese, Georgian Russians and Armenians, many of whom filtered down into Arabia as refugees after the last war. Most of the King’s divorced wives, their social standing improved by association with royalty, have made advantageous second marriages. A good number of the rest still live in the women’s quarters at the palace, which adjoin the King’s courtroom. Each of the King’s practicing wives and some of the concubines and divorcees have ten-room apartments with 15 or more slaves apiece. Associating chiefly with each other and equipped with a common interest in His Majesty, the Wives, Divorcees and Concubines get along well together. Like U.S. wives, the king’s wives are troubled by problems of diet but unlike U.S. wives, spend most of their time discussing how to put on weight.

(pg 80-82)

As to the Palestine question, His Majesty is more outspoken like most Arabs, he feels that the British Government’s famous promise during the last war to make a Jewish Home in Palestine was about as realistic as would have been a promise by an Arab Government to found a Jewish Home in Devonshire. Since Jerusalem has always been a Moslem Holy Land as well as a Christian and a Jewish one, and since its population was for centuries preponderantly Arab after the Romans ejected the Jews in the 2nd Century A.D., Arabs wonder why Palestine was not the least suitable rather than the most suitable spot on the globe for such a venture. While reluctantly prepared to accept the existing state of affairs in Palestine and to admit that the influx of Jews since that last war may in some ways have done good, Arabs are profoundly unsympathetic to the idea of entertaining more Jews and even more so to the idea of extending the Palestinian boarder eastward after the War.

(pg 84)

Source: LIFE Magazine visits IBN SAUD  May 31st, 1943

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