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  You are in: Home > Biography > ‘IFFAT AL THUNAYAN  
 

‘IFFAT AL THUNAYAN
An Arabian Queen

Joseph A. Kéchichian

Joseph A. Kéchichian is the author of ten published books, including Faysal: Saudi Arabia’s King for All Seasons (2008), as well as Succession in Saudi Arabia (2001), Power and Succession in Arab Monarchies, (2008), and Legal and Political Reforms in Saudi Arabia (2013).

 

‘Iffat Al Thunayan, spouse of the late King Faysal bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Al Sa‘ud (r. 1964–1975), was a pillar of the ruling Al Sa‘ud family. Born and raised in Istanbul to an uprooted Sa‘udi family, she returned to the Kingdom in 1932, a few months before the founder ruler, ‘Abdul ‘Aziz bin ‘Abdul Rahman, reinstituted the monarchy. ‘Iffat used her influence to infiltrate many progressive ideas into the Kingdom, including significant strides in education for both boys and girls as well as major advances in health care. An astute observer and a doer par excellence, Queen ‘Iffat left her mark on the contemporary history of the Al Sa‘ud, as she protected and empowered her kin. She raised a formidable family, listened carefully, guided conversations as necessary, spoke with moderation, recommended policies to her husband and, after the latter was assassinated, to her brothers-in-law who succeeded him.

A politically conscious spouse, Queen ‘Iffat played the leading role in Sa‘udi female society, attended many state functions, and received female state guests. She traveled extensively, especially in Europe and the United States, supported myriad charities, and cajoled many to invest in the Kingdom. Universally respected, many people sought her advice for she shared her ambitions and ideas to benefit the entire country.

Based on multiple interviews conducted with members of the al-Faysal family, friends, and acquaintances of the late Queen, Joseph A. Kéchichian offers the first political biography of a Sa‘udi monarch’s spouse. This work is an important resource for social scientists and political analysts, and of interest to all who wish to learn about Arab women in general, and Sa‘udi women in particular.



Preface
Acknowledgments
A Note on Transliteration

Introduction
Political Awareness and Relationship with the King
Role in Education
A Queen’s Legacy
Methodological Approach

1. FROM CONSTANTINOPLE TO MAKKAH
THE AL THUNAYAN
‘Abdallah Al Thunayan
‘Abdallah Basha’s Offspring
Valuable Services between 1914 and 1921
With Faysal in Europe
Death and Legacy
CONSTANTINOPLE
The Ottoman Capital Between 1876 and 1915
The Ottoman Capital Between 1915 and 1923
The Circassian Matriarch
Life with Ibrahim Adham
THE ROAD TO MAKKAH

2. A PILLAR OF THE AL SA’UD
A GLIMPSE INTO ‘IFFAT’S CHARACTER
Marriage to Faysal
SONS AND DAUGHTERS
Sarah al-Faysal
Muhammad al-Faysal
Latifah al-Faysal
Sa‘ud al-Faysal
‘Abdul Rahman al-Faysal
Bandar al-Faysal
Turki al-Faysal
Lulwah al-Faysal
Hayfah al-Faysal
FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND ACQUAINTANCES
Kamal Adham: The Cherished Brother
Muzaffar Adham Rif‘at: A Beloved Sister
Ahmad ‘Abdul Wahhab: The Embraced “Son”
THE MAST OF THE NATION

3. EDUCATION FOR A REBORN NATION
FIRST STEPS IN EDUCATION
Education before 1932
Post-1932 State-Sponsored Initiatives
CREATING INSTITUTIONS
‘Iffat’s First Steps in Education
‘Iffat’s Second Steps in Education
Dar Al-Hanan
Effat University
A LIFE OF PHILANTRHOPY
The King Faysal Foundation
King Faysal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies (KFCRIS)
The King Faysal School
Al Faysal University
Prince Sultan College for Tourism and Business
A MEASURE OF PROGRESS
TO EDUCATE FOR GOD AND COUNTRY

4. HEALTH PRIORITIES FOR A GROWING POPULATION
PHILANTHROPIC SOCIETIES
Al-Nahdah Philanthropic Society for Women
The Women’s Charitable Society in Jiddah
Women’s Associations
ASSISTANCE TO THE DISABLED
The Help Center
The Maharat Center
HEALTH INSTITUTIONS
King Faysal Specialist Hospital
King Khalid Eye Hospital
Health Awareness in the Kingdom
THE IMPACT OF JAWHARAN AL THUNAYAN

5. ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE KINGDOM
WOMEN IN ISLAM
Customary Veiling of Sa‘udi Women
The Quest for Gender Equality
WOMEN IN SA‘UDI ARABIA
Judicial Restrictions and Putative Changes
Socio-Cultural Limitations and Future Challenges
WOMEN AS ROLE MODELS
Economic Solutions for a G20 Member
‘Iffat Al Thunayan and Sa‘udi Women

6. FROM THE HIJAZ TO NAJD
WOUNDED BUT NOT BROKEN
Impact of Faysal’s Death
Preserving the Al Sa‘ud Legacy
HEALED BY WILLPOWER
Core Beliefs and Norms
Women in Islam
STRENGTHENED BY FAITH
The Character of a Lioness
The Return to Najd
CONCLUSION

APPENDICES
1. Interviews
2. List of Photographs and Documents

Bibliography
Index
About the Autho
r

“A major academic achievement. The author paints an image of a liberalized Queen who seldom condemned the traditions of her society, and while she imported the best from what the West offered, her forte was to truly invest in her people and country. … What comes across in this dramatic story, which highlights the life of a girl who lived under modest circumstances in Istanbul but became a lady in Riyadh and Jeddah, is a story of successes and failures, which makes the book a historical document that complements the author’s earlier work on King Faisal, her husband. Kéchichian has written the first biography of the life of a Saudi Queen and, in doing so, provided students of Saudi Arabia an important historical document.” Ibrahim Darwish, Al-Quds Al-‘Arabi, 24 January 2015, at http://www.alqudsalarabi.co.uk/?p=152386

“Kéchichian’s book provides a fascinating yet remarkably nuanced political biography of the late Saudi Arabian Queen Iffat Al Thunayan, whose progressive ideas and important role, particularly in female education and health care, continue to serve in contemporary Saudi society. The book is based on his numerous personal contacts and interviews with Saudi royal dignitaries, all of which are extensively footnoted. It should find wide use among those interested in Middle Eastern civilizations, political science, sociology, and feminist studies.” Solomon A. Nigosian, Ph.D., Research Associate of Middle/Near Eastern Studies University of Toronto Victoria College

Reviewed by John Waterbury in Foreign Affairs (August 2015).

 

Publication Details

 
Hardback ISBN:
978-1-84519-685-1
 
 
Page Extent / Format:
360 pp. / 234 x 156 mm
 
Release Date:
December 2014
  Illustrated:   16-page colour plate section
 
Hardback Price:
£35.00 / $50.00
 
 

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