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The death of a Saudi Arabian historian

Saudi historical studies have lost one of its significant figures and pioneers

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

With the death of the most famous Saudi historian of our time, Dr Abdullah al-Saleh al-Othaimeen, Saudi historical studies have lost one of its significant figures and pioneers. Othaimeen passed away on Tuesday after a short battle with illness.

The last task he handled to serve his country’s culture and image was assuming the post of secretary general of the King Faisal International Prize. He performed his task well, but because his health deteriorated, the qualified Dr Abdulaziz al-Sebail took over this task.

Othaimeen was a member of the generation of Saudi academic historians that enriched Saudi libraries with elaborate studies, translations, writings and commentaries. Some of his writings, such as “The History of the Arab Saudi Kingdom,” have been used as educational material in the Saudi education system.

Heritage

He was distinguished for mixing his approach and that of the old school of local historians, and benefitted a lot from cultural heritage, particularly colloquial poetry, about which he wrote. He also wrote about the curricula of modern historical research methods.

He who wants to really know the history of Saudi Arabia, and to read scientific writings that comprehend historical material, must read Othaimeen’s works

Mshari al-Thaydi

Othaimeen graduated from King Saud University in 1963, and attained his PhD from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 1972. His PhD thesis was entitled “Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdel Wahhab, his life and ideology.”

He wrote many classic texts and school references. His writings include “Relations between the first Saudi state and Kuwait”, “Lectures and commentaries on the history of the Arab Saudi Kingdom”, and “Materials for a history of the Wahhabis,” which is a translation of the second part of Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt’s book “A mission to Najd, St John Philby.”

He who wants to really know the history of Saudi Arabia, and to read scientific writings that comprehend historical material, must read Othaimeen’s works, as they are distinguished with thorough knowledge of local heritage and foreign documents.

This article was first published by Asharq al-Awsat on April 18, 2016.
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Saudi journalist Mshari Al Thaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Al Thaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists.

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