Abdullah Al-Tariki: First Saudi Board Member

Engaging, dynamic, courageous and outspoken, Abdullah H. Al-Tariki is widely remembered as a world figure in the politics of oil and energy.

A Saudi native, Al-Tariki originally came from Zilfi , the son of a camel owner who organized caravans between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. At an early age, Al-Tariki was noted for his intelligence and was sent to schools in Kuwait and Cairo. He later earned a scholarship to the University of Texas, where he studied chemistry and geology.

Al-Tariki was responsible for many firsts in Saudi Arabia. He was one of the first American-educated Saudis and is believed to be the fi rst Saudi trained in both chemistry and geology. At 35 years of age, his role with the Directorate of Oil and Mining Affairs was to process petroleum statistics from Aramco and provide these to the Royal Family with his analyses.

In 1954, he became director general of Petroleum and Mineral Affairs. In 1959, Al-Tariki was the first Saudi elected to Aramco’s Board of Directors. Upon creation of the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources in 1960, Al-Tariki was appointed the first oil minister.

Al-Tariki was pivotal in supporting both the nationalization and the Saudization of the company.

Among his other accomplishments, Al-Tariki was instrumental in the founding in 1960 of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and in his later years, served as an oil consultant and an activist in Arab affairs.