House of Saud [site homepage]
homeinterviewsanalysischronologyfamily treediscussion
crown prince abdullah

In a rare interview, then-Crown Prince Abdullah, now the king of Saudi Arabia, answers questions about democracy in his kingdom, his 2002 visit with President Bush in Crawford, Texas, and how the struggle today with Al Qaeda and other fundamentalists compares to his father King Abd al-Aziz's confrontation in the 1920s with the fervent Wahhabi Islamists, the Ikhwan. This interview, translated from Arabic, was conducted by producer Martin Smith on December 11, 2004 in Riyadh.

Can you say in just a few words what's your vision for the future of Saudi Arabia?

God willing, a prosperous future.

What is the legitimacy of the monarchy based on?

The legitimacy is the Islamic shari'a, Islam and the glorious Quran.

Do you expect this to ever become a representative democracy?

I believe it is now a democracy.

What did you tell President Bush, what was your advice to him before the invasion of Iraq?

This is the question that you should address to Bush, it is not my right to answer anymore. Before expressing my opinion to the President, it was my prerogative, but once I told it to him, it is now his own.

photo of crown prince abdullah
They have no objective or goal but to harm human beings. And unfortunately, they have tainted the reputation of Muslims in the whole world.

When you visited Crawford, Texas, what was the message that you were carrying for President Bush?

I carried to President Bush all esteem and respect and friendship to the people of America. When I saw President Bush I was convinced by his wise leadership, and I wish him all success for the next step.

You also brought newspapers and video tapes. What was the purpose?

Yes, some. I wanted to show the President what was going on in Palestine. That's it.

Did he respond appropriately?

I believe so.

I have one last question. If your father King Abd al-Aziz were here today, what would he think of the country as it is today?

Well, King Abd al-Aziz had a wide long-term vision. I believe without any doubt that he would be pleased.

…What would he think of Al Qaeda, the fundamentalists, extremists?

God knows.

Do you think there is a similarity between your struggle and his?

No, the Ikhwan's objective was power-sharing but these are criminals. They have no objective or goal but to harm human beings. And unfortunately, they have tainted the reputation of Muslims in the whole world. That is the thing that we need people to know about Islam, its history, its principles and Muslims. The truth is that those people only represent the devil.

Thank you. My regards to the American people, our friends.

home + introduction + interviews + analysis + chronology: house of saud + a royal family tree
join the discussion + producer's chat + teacher's guide
press reaction + tapes & transcript + credits + privacy policy
FRONTLINE home + wgbh + pbsi

updated aug. 1, 2005

FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of wgbh educational foundation.
photo copyright © corbis
web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation