Abdullah Tariki

Abdullah Tariki
Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources
In office
December 1960  9 March 1962
Prime Minister King Saud
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Ahmed Zaki Yamani
Personal details
Born (1919-03-19)19 March 1919
Zulfi, Saudi Arabia
Died 7 September 1997(1997-09-07) (aged 78)
Cairo, Egypt
Nationality Saudi Arabian
Alma mater Cairo University
University of Texas
Religion Islam

Abdullah ibn Hamoud Tariki (19 March 1919 – 7 September 1997) (Arabic: عبدالله الطريقي), also known as Red Sheikh,[1] was a Saudi politician and government official. He was the first Saudi oil minister appointed by King Saud, and co-founder of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) along with Venezuelan minister Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso.

Early life and education

Tariki was born on 19 March 1919 in Al Zulfi (Arabic: الزلفي) in Najd.[2] He was the son of a camel owner who organized caravans between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.[3]

Tariki received his early education in Kuwait and in Cairo.[4] He held a bachelor's degree in geology and chemistry, which he obtained from Cairo University in 1944.[2] He graduated from the University of Texas in 1947, earning a master's degree in petroleum engineering and geology.[2][5] He was also trained at the Texas Oil Company after graduation.[2][6]

Career and activities

After training in the US, Tariki returned to Saudi Arabia and worked at the ministry of finance office in Dammam from May 1953 to December 1954.[5] He served as an interpreter at the initial phase of his career at the ministry.[7] In December 1954, Tariki was appointed director-general of petroleum and mineral affairs in the ministry of finance and national economy.[5][8]

Tariki's work at the directorate involved processing the petroleum production statistics provided by Aramco, and analysis summaries were then presented to the Saudi royal family. In fact, Tariki was one of the earliest critics of Aramco, arguing that the US companies should consult more with Saudi officials in exploring, pumping and selling of oil.[9] He called for the nationalization of Arab oil.[10] To achieve this goal, he and Venezuela's mines minister Juan Pablo Perez Alfonso strongly supported the foundation of the OPEC and eventually became founding members of it in September 1960.[4][11]

The ministry of petroleum and mineral resources was created in December 1960, and Tariki was appointed the first oil minister.[12][13] Tariki joined Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz's camp, Free Princes Movement, in 1961,[14] and they accused Crown Prince Faisal, later King Faisal, of corruption.[12] Tariki became a powerful ally of the movement.[3] He claimed on evidence that Kamal Adham, who was the brother-in-law of Prince Faisal, got 2% of the profits of the Arabian Oil Company that had been cofounded by Saudi Arabia and Japan.[12]

Tariki was removed from office by Prince Faisal in 1962.[4][15] He was succeeded by Ahmed Zaki Yamani as oil minister.[12] Yamani sacked Tariki also from Aramco's board.[12]

Later years

Following his dismissal, Tariki went to exile and settled in Beirut.[10][12] In January 1963, he and Lebanese oil expert Nicholas Sarkis founded an oil consulting firm in Beirut.[5] Tariki also launced a journal there, namely Arab Oil and Gas.[16] He could visit Saudi Arabia only after the death of King Faisal in 1975.[3] Later he settled in Cairo.[17]


Tariki died of a heart attack on 7 September 1997 in Cairo at age 78.[18][19] His body was taken to Saudi Arabia for burial.[17]



  1. "Irresistible Libyan Crude". Middle East Online. 10 April 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Neal, Joe (May 1961). "A Sheikh of Arabia". The Alcalde. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 Kai Bird (20 April 2010). Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956-1978. Simon and Schuster. p. 125. ISBN 978-1-4391-7160-8. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  4. 1 2 3 Ibrahim, Youssef M."Sheik Abdullah al-Tariki, 80, First Saudi Arabian Oil Minister," New York Times. 16 September 1997.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Duguid, Stephen (July 1970). "A Biographical Approach to the Study of Social Change in the Middle East: Abdullah Tariki as a New Man". International Journal of Middle East Studies. 1 (3): 195–220. doi:10.1017/s0020743800024168. JSTOR 162327.
  6. Robert Vitalis (2007). America's Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier. Stanford University Press. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-8047-5446-0. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  7. Hertog, Steffen (2007). "Shaping the Saudi state: Human agency's shifting role in the rentier state formation" (PDF). International Journal Middle East Studies. 39 (4): 539–563. doi:10.1017/S0020743807071073. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  8. Hertog, Steffen (2008). "Petromin: the slow death of statist oil development in Saudi Arabia" (PDF). Business history. 50 (5): 645–667. doi:10.1080/00076790802246087. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  9. "Saudi oil ministers past and present". Reuters. 25 February 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  10. 1 2 Sukrī M. Ġānim (1986). OPEC: The Rise and Fall of an Exclusive Club. KPI. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-7103-0175-8. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  11. M. S. Vassiliou (2 March 2009). Historical Dictionary of the Petroleum Industry. Scarecrow Press. p. 364. ISBN 978-0-8108-6288-3. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 M. S. Vassiliou (24 September 2009). The A to Z of the Petroleum Industry. Scarecrow Press. p. 496. ISBN 978-0-8108-7066-6. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  13. Yitzhak Oron, Ed. Middle East Record Volume 2, 1961. The Moshe Dayan Center. p. 419. GGKEY:4Q1FXYK79X8. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  14. Vijay Prashad (2007). The Darker Nations- A Biography of the Short-Lived Third World. LeftWord Books. p. 275. ISBN 978-81-87496-66-3. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  15. Henderson, Simon (1994). "After King Fahd" (Policy Paper). Washington Institute. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  16. Brandon Roy Wolfe-Hunnicutt (2011). The End of the Concessionary Regime: Oil and American Power in Iraq, 1958-1972. Stanford University. p. 153. STANFORD:TM772ZZ7352. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  17. 1 2 "Former Saudi oil minister dies". Associate Press. Cairo. 10 September 1997. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  18. Obituary: "Abdullah ibn Hamoud Al Tariki," Washington Post. 12 September 1997.
  19. "Abdullah Al Tariki, 80, A Co-founder Of Opec". Chicago Tribune. London. 21 September 1997. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  20. Terzian, Pierre. (1985). OPEC, the Inside Story: The Inside Story, p. 31.
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