Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud became king of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in January 2015, at the age of 79.
He is the absolute monarch of Saudi Arabia, head of the house of Saud, and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
King Salman has worked closely with his son, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, the eldest son of his third wife, and the power behind the throne, in instituting many seemingly significant reforms.
King Salman is the 25th son of King Abdulaziz, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia. He was raised in the Murabba Palace in Riyadh. He studied religion and modern sciences under religious scholars and sheikhs at the Princes School under the close guidance of his father. He was appointed the Governor of Riyad region when he was just 19, and he held that post for 48 years – until 2011.
He has been married to three wives and has 11 sons and two daughters, ranging in age from 63 to 30. His sons Fahd and Ahmad both died in their forties.
Prior to becoming king, he often mediated disputes among the estimated 4,000 princes in the Royal House of Saud. He has funded mujahedeen fighters in Afghanistan and has been closely associated with radical Wahhabi factions in the country.
As king, Salman has streamlined the administration of the Kingdom by eliminating eleven government departments and merging them into just two. He also launched a war against the Shia Houthi in Yemen, and his soldiers have been accused of numerous human rights abuses.
In 2017 he ordered an unprecedented purge of princes and government officials, accusing them of corruption. In 2018 King Salman also got rid of the law prohibiting women from driving.
Both King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman are committed to the extremely conservative Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam. There is no religious freedom and little political freedom under their rule.
King Salman has a net worth of more than $50 billion. He lives in enormous luxury in the royal palace. But the king’s health is failing. He did not fully recover from a recent stroke, and he reportedly has Alzheimer’s disease.