A rare look into the life of King Abdulaziz al-Saud was published by an early 20th century Arab journalist and traveler.
Egyptian journalist Mohammed Shafiq Effendi travelled through Saudi Arabia - or what was known as the Kingdoms of Najd and Hijaz - between1923 and 1927, and recorded his travels in articles which were compiled into a book published in 1927.
The book titled, ‘In the Heart of Najd and Hijaz’, King Abdulaziz was described as a tall, copper-colored, bright-eyed, spectacled man with eloquent intelligence, willpower, intensity of determination and grace. He was about 50 years old.
Access to Riyadh
In the book, Effendi wrote that he met King Abdulaziz four days after his return to Riyadh from the battle of Hijaz.
Celebrations were held in the city and people crowded to welcome the king after his long absence.
The writer described the celebration party he was invited to at the Royal Palace to announce that the monarch would be called King of Najd. Earlier his title was Sultan.
"After Friday prayers, the king and his deputy sit in the royal palace hall and greet worhippers as this is the custom," Shafiq Effendi said.
The Royal Palace is built in an Arab style with columns in the center and the white plaster decorated with clear Arabic inscriptions.
The palace consists of two floors -the first holds the dining room for guests of the king, as well as private dining halls. And the upper floor has large lounges and one that fits about 300 people.
The Royal Palace also houses the king's private library, and quarters for the king's doctor."
The king’s daily Life
Describing King Abdulaziz’s daily life, Effendi wrote that he wakes up before dawn and recites the Quran before the Fajr prayers at the palace mosque. When the king returns, he eats breakfast with his children and family members.
Later, the king moves to his private office and reviews cables, messages and discuss them with his deputies. He used to put his opinions on issues in writing, according to Effendi.
King Abdulaziz would then head to his diwan (court), where he would meet with the daily callers. Effendi described the scene at the diwan where people refer to him as Abdulaziz without any royal titles or references.
Later in the day, the king proceeds to review the public affairs in every article and discusses all the issues with the princes of the different provinces.
Effendi explained that King Abdulaziz invited him to this council and drew his attention to a Syrian newspaper report which said that ‘Mr. Abdullah bin Ayed left the Hijaz and mobilized an army that wanted to topple King Abdulaziz’.
The king then pointed at Abdullah bin Ayed who happened to be in the king’s council. Effendi said he smiled and told the king: “The scourge of journalism is caused by its practitioners”.
After the evening prayer, King Abdulaziz used to tour his staff, examine their work and provide them with ideas and opinions.
The first royal talk
Effendi described the interview he had with King Abdulaziz: "He asked me with great interest what I saw during my long and arduous journey, while looking and smiling with admiration, when I started answering his questions."
Effendi spoke with the king about the battle of Hijaz, which brought the region under the Saudi rule.
“I swear to you that I did not want to fight with the people of Hijaz, but al-Sharif Hussein pushed us to fight after the way his gang in recent years mistreated pilgrims, and not only ones from Najd but others, so we have been forced to send our army to Hijaz. If you hear from me the word army, it is not an army, it is the brave Bedouins you see here around you,” the king said.
King Abdulaziz added that the system of government in the Hijaz, was not changed. "We kept senior officials who entrusted their loyalty to us and only replaced the laws initiated by the Sharif which did not follow the rule of Sharia as in the case in Najd. This has had an impact on the establishment of security in the Hijaz as you will see when you visit”.