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An Estimate of the Size and Cost of the Thousands of the al-Saud Clan 


This article is sourced from Chapter Six of my book Oil and GodRenewable Energy Will Defeat Wahhabi Terror



Estimated in 2018 to be more than 11,000 direct descendants of King Abdulaziz, the founder of the dynasty, the al-Saud family is probably the largest ruling family in history. When the families of Abdulaziz’s brother and the half-dozen half-brothers are added, the extended family might be 15,000, possibly more. When the families of Abdulaziz’s cousins, such as Saud al-Kabir and Abdallah bin Turki are added, the number becomes greater. When families into whom the al-Sauds married, such as al-Jiluwi, al-Sudairi and al-Thunayyan are added, the grand total will grow even further. To say that the grand total could reach 30,000 might be an underestimation.


There are five generations of descendants of the founder of the Saudi dynasty, King Abdulaziz al-Saud (d. 1953). According to Leslie Mc Laughlin, the patriarch fathered “43 sons and many daughters.”[1] Upon the patriarch’s death, 35 sons were alive. These sons were born to seventeen wives and concubines (source: Various): 


The Wives: Wadha (King Saud) + Tarfah (King Faisal) + Jawhara (Muhammad, King Khalid) + Hassa al-Sudairi (King Fahed, Sultan, Abdulrahman, Nayif, Turki, King Salman, Ahmad) + Haya al-Sudairi (Badr, Abdulmajeed) + Jawhara al-Sudairi (Sa’ad, Abdelmuhsen, Musa’ed) + Noff (Thamer, Mamdouh, Mashhour) + Fahda (King Abdallah) + Bazza-I (Nasser).


The Concubines: Bazza-II (Bandar, Fawwaz) + Shahida (Mansour, Mish’al, Mit’ab) + Manayer (Talal, Nawwaf) + Moudi (Sattam, Majid) + Bushra (Mishari) + Baraka (Miqrin) + Fatima (Hmoud) + Sai’ida (Hathloul).

Only the descendants of the male children who were alive at the time of the patriarch’s death will be counted. The descendants of the daughters will not be counted. The al-Saud women marry their cousins and extended family. 


At the time of this writing, 9 sons of Abdulaziz’s first generation are alive, including the current king, Salman. The 35 first generation sons may have produced 525 second-generation children [35 sons at an assumed average of 15 children each (35 x 15 = 525)]. King Saud alone, for example, the eldest son of King Abdulaziz, had 53 sons and 54 daughters[2]


The 263 second-generation sons (525 / 2) are assumed to have produced 8 children each, or 2,104 of third generation children (263 x 8 = 2,104). The younger generation is less likely to marry more than one or two wives at any one time, compared with up to four wives at any one time for many of the older generation. The three generations would total 2,638 princes and princesses (9 + 525 + 2,104 = 2,638). 


Of the third generation, it is assumed that each of the 1,052 sons (2,104 / 2 = 1,052) has 6 children each, for a total fourth generation of 6,312 children (1,052 x 6 = 6,312). The four generations would total 8,950 (9 + 525 + 2,104 + 6,312 = 8,950). 


Assuming that a third of the fourth generation male children are married and each has 2 children, the number of the fifth generation children would be 2,104 (6,312 / 2 = 3,156 / 3 = 1,052 x 2 = 2,104).


The grand total of the five generations of direct descendants of Abdulaziz al-Saud becomes 11,054 (9 + 525 + 2,104 + 6,312 + 2,104 = 11,054).  


The Financial Burden of the Al-Saud Clan on the Saudi Treasury: A sliding scale of monthly salaries is paid to al-Saud family members, according to their position in the genealogical hierarchy and proximity to the founding patriarch. A special department at the Ministry of Finance by the non-descript name of al-Idarat al-Aammah Li-lmuqarrarat Wal-Kawaed (General Administration for Allowances and Guidelines) administers these payments. 


The burden of the ruling family on the national treasury is secret. It may be estimated, however, that the annual cost of the immediate family of King Abdulaziz is in the region of $11 billion, at the assumed low average of $1 million per descendant. This estimate does not include lump-sum special handouts of cash or grants of public lands or crude oil allocation to certain members of the family. In addition to cash, the King allocates crude oil for a certain period of time to certain princes. The recipient sells the bounty through an agent. These allocations are not reported in official Saudi oil export statistics. They raise OPEC’s export quota for Saudi Arabia clandestinely.


Members of the al-Saud family have become extraordinarily wealthy. Some royals engage in trading and construction businesses. They earn phenomenal commissions/bribes on government contracts. They break the law with impunity.


Legendary extravaganceon palaces in Saudi Arabia and in European and American cities, on grand private jets, super-yachts, fleets of the most expensive luxury and sports cars, and on obscenely expensive jewellery are a typical way of life for most of the al-Sauds. It is common for a vacationing prince to carry a million dollars in banknotes and travellers checks for incidentals.


Out of the country’s oil revenues between 1981 and 2016 of $3.22 trillion between 1981 and 2008 (Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency annual reports), the surviving sons of King Abdulaziz, their children, and the descendants of his deceased children might have cost the Saudi Treasury $350 billion in the form of commissions/bribes on weapon purchases and infrastructure projects. When the monthly stipends, special cash handouts, and land and oil grants are added, the total could reach $700 billion.



[1]Leslie Mc Laughlin, Ibn Saud: Founder of a Kingdom, (Palgrave Macmillan, St Antony's Series)/1993), P.206.

[2] Madawi Al-Rasheed, A History of Saudi Arabia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.