Prince Mishaal bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Governor of Makkah Region
Mishaal bin Abdullah was born in Riyadh. He is the sixth son of King Abdullah. His mother is Tathi bint Mishan al Faisal al Jarba (al Jarbah), a member of the Iraqi branch of the Shammar tribe. Prince Mishaal received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from King Saud University in 1995. He has a Ph.D. degree in political science.
Mishaal bin Abdullah started his career as the Director of the Computer Department of the National Guard, and served there from 1997 to 2003. Then, he was appointed the Minister Plenipotentiary with a third rank at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs beginning in 22 August 2003. Next, he became Minister Plenipotentiary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ranked fourteenth on 12 February 2006. He was also an adviser in the Saudi Royal Court. In November 2006, he led Saudi Arabia’s delegation to a meeting of UN General Assembly.
Prince Mishaal was appointed the Governor of Najran Province on 1 April 2009. It is reported that the Province witnessed considerable progress following his appointment. He warned public and private agencies on 18 November 2011 that he would monitor service projects that have been carried out in the province and take punitive action against negligent companies and officials. His appointment to Najran Province is commonly regarded as King Abdullah’s positive gesture towards the Ismailis residing in the province.
Mishaal bin Abdullah was also one of the advisors at the Crown Prince Court. In other words, he was one of the advisors of late Crown Prince Nayef. The other two advisors of the Crown Prince were Mohammed bin Fahd and Faisal bin Khalid.
In the Najran Province, the south of Saudi Arabia, the small Saudi Ismaili minority (population approximately 400,000) experienced systematic discrimination after the appointment of the highly conservative Mishaal bin Saud in 1996. During his tenure, Ismailis’ religious freedoms were curtailed such as the closure of mosques, the arrest of clerics and restrictions on religious schooling for young Ismailis. As a result, the Ismailis thought that it was under siege and began to arm itself in case of an attack upon its religious leader, Da’i al-Mutlaq (the Absolute Guide), at his home in Najran. Despite the fact that the Ismailis are the majority of the population of Najran, they hold only a tiny minority of all senior government posts. Moreover, the Saudi government pursued a policy of naturalising Yemeni Sunnis from the Hadramawt region of Yemen, providing them with land plots, letting them to carry weapons and allegedly turning a blind eye to attacks upon Ismailis. This policy would appear to be remarkably short-sighted in that many of the tribes invited to live in Najran have been the most fertile recruiting ground for al-Qaeda in Yemen. Due to these negative events, tension between local authorities and the Ismaili population increased, resulting in a confrontation between armed Ismaili demonstrators and police and army units outside the Holiday Inn hotel in Najran city in April 2000.
As a result of domestic and international reactions, King Abdullah fired Mishaal bin Saud as Governor of Najran Province in late 2008 and appointed his son, Prince Mishaal, in April 2009. Mishaal bin Abdullah who has acquired a reputation for his intellect and diligence in working to reduce poverty in Saudi Arabia began a programme to address the social and economic grievances of the Ismaili community, including the distribution of land to previously dispossessed Ismailis.
On 27 March 2012, Mishaal bin Abdullah was reported to ask the ministry of culture and information to investigate the programs of a satellite TV channel which allegedly provoked sectarianism and harmed the national unity due to the fact that the channel aired a program that allegedly aimed to divide the residents of the region along sectarian lines. A speaker on the related TV channel made negative comments against the people of Najran Province along sectarian lines. Upon his request, an investigation was started. Saudi minister of culture and information, Abdul Aziz Khoja, declared that such provocations of sectarianism were against national unity and cannot be tolerated.
Prince Mishaal married Luluwah bint Nawaf bin Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Al Saud in January 2009.He secondly got married on 10 May 2012 to Princess Nouf bint Bandar Al Saud. Prince Mishaal is an honorary member of Al-Hilal FC.