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Long-time Saudi oil minister Ahmed Zaki Yamani dies, aged 90

February 23, 2021 at 12:47 pm

A picture taken 13 July 1977, in Stockholm, shows King Carl Gustaf of Sweden (R), talking to Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani of Saudi Arabia (C), the strong man of the OPEP summit, and colonel Muhammad Buhari of Nigeria (L). [AFP via Getty Images]

The long-time oil minister of Saudi Arabia, who led the kingdom through the famed 1973 oil embargo, passed away today in London at the age of 90.

Ahmed Zaki Yamani was reported to have died this morning in the UK capital London, with Saudi state media not providing a cause of his death. He is expected to be buried in the Islamic holy city of Makkah, where he was born in 1930.

Since being appointed as the kingdom’s oil minister in 1962, after becoming the first Saudi representative at the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) board of governors the previous year, he led his ministry until 1986.

While holding the position, he was one of the kingdom’s most prominent figures during its golden years in the oil industry, in which its influence was seen in Riyadh’s oil embargo of 1973.

READ: Can Arab oil once again be leveraged to support Arab causes?

In response to the United States’ support of and assistance to Israel during its conflict with surrounding Arab states that year, Arab producers cut their oil supply and caused prices in the US to skyrocket by 40 per cent, which then quadrupled and provided an increase of wealth to the Gulf states.

Aside from the economic aspect, that event served as a lesson that the Saudis could wield their power in the oil industry under the reign of King Faisal Bin Abdulaziz. Despite oil now holding less of an influence, Riyadh still attempted to use its role last year during the oil price war between the kingdom and Russia.

Following that oil embargo, Yamani then oversaw Saudi Arabia’s nationalisation of its oil industry which was shared with the US at the time, resulting in today’s Saudi Arabian Oil Co., better known as Aramco.

Yamani’s role came to an end in 1986 when he was dismissed by King Fahd, thought to be a result of a disagreement over OPEC’s oil production quotas and the amount of shares that the kingdom would have.