THE STORY OF Saudi Arabia chronicles the royal family and how King Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman al-Saud welded the warring tribes of the Arabian Peninsula into a single, durable nation. 'Unlike in other political systems where the new party coming to power overturns or abandons initiatives of the previous party, in Saudi Arabia there has been a marked continuity,' said Consul-General Alaudeen Alaskary. King Abdul was born in Riyadh in 1880 into the Saud family, which had accrued great power throughout the peninsula in the previous century. At the time of his birth, the family's power had greatly diminished. In 1890, under threat from the powerful Turkish Rashid family, the Sauds fled to Kuwait. The future king, known as Ibn Saud, dreamed of reclaiming his family's lost land. On January 15, 1905, he launched a long campaign to this end, which culminated in the creation of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia on September 21, 1932, and its formal recognition by the rest of the world two days later. Immediately after founding the kingdom, Ibn Saud decreed the application of sharia, or Islamic law, in all its affairs. Key among the first monarch's achievements was the revival of the 'open door' tradition, whereby citizens could petition the king or crown prince with their grievances at a specific time of the day. King Abdul began the process of modernisation and launched projects aimed at improving education, health care, social welfare, agriculture and water supply. The nation's founding father died in 1953 and was succeeded by Crown Prince Saud. The new king's 11-year reign was marked by the establishment of numerous ministries and the opening of the King Saud University in Riyadh. His fourth son, the far-sighted Faisal, ascended the throne and initiated major economic and social development projects, including industrialisation of the desert kingdom, before he was assassinated in 1975. In foreign policy, King Faisal showed a resolute commitment to the interests of the Arab and Islamic world. His second son, Khalid, ruled the kingdom until 1982. He introduced a five-year plan to build up the country's infrastructure and health-care system and hosted major Arab summits in Mecca and Taif. The next king, Fahd, played a pivotal role in international affairs and made Saudi Arabia a broker in regional disputes. At home, his efforts focused on the implementation of development plans which saw Saudi Arabia modernise at a fast pace. In August this year, Crown Prince Abdullah became the sixth king of Saudi Arabia. Born in Riyadh in 1924, King Abdullah received a formal religious education. The years he spent in the desert with the bedouin taught him the traditional Arab values of honour, generosity, simplicity and courage. Since his appointment as head of state, King Abdullah has transformed the National Guard into an effective, modern military force. He has also played a vital role in preserving and celebrating the kingdom's cultural heritage. He is patron of the National Heritage and Cultural Festival, a key event celebrating and preserving the country's rich legacy.