For other uses, see Sabah.
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The House of Sabah (Arabic: آل صباحAl Sabah) is the ruling family of Kuwait. They are a clan from the Utub federation which migrated to Kuwait in the early 18th century, from Basra and Najd. After reaching Kuwait, they entered in an alliance with the other families such as Al-Khalifa and Al Jalahma. The Al Sabah family has been Kuwait's monarchy since 1938.[1]

The Emir of Kuwait is the head of the executive branch. He is nominated by a family council headed by the most senior and prominent members of the Al-Sabah. The leadership is not strictly hereditary and although some Emirs have succeeded their fathers, the family chooses the leader from each succeeding generation. For example, the late Jaber Al-Sabah appointed his cousin, Sheikh Saad, as heir apparent.

The Kuwaiti parliament (per article 3 of the Constitution) has the constitutional right to approve and disapprove of an Emir's appointment, therefore the parliament has the authority to remove an Emir from his post. The parliament effectively removed Saad al-Sabah from his post in 2006 due to his illness.

Some (not all) members of the monarchy receive a monthly stipend from the Amiri Diwan. The prime minister is selected by the Emir of the state of Kuwait and he could be any Kuwaiti citizen. In 1991, right after the Gulf War, a Time magazine article stated that the Al-Sabah family have an estimated wealth of $90 billion, with investments mostly in the United States. "The al-Sabah family by now was unimaginably rich, with an estimated wealth of some 90 billion dollars. They had invested about 50 billion dollars in the stocks of US companies." By 2010, almost 20 years later, the estimated wealth of the Al-Sabah family is unknown, but many observers predict that it has tripled, or even quadrupled over the years, as the Al-Sabah's have the largest shares in almost all the blue chip corporations in the Western world, with tens of billions of dollars invested in companies from Citibank to Daimler AG to Merrill Lynch.

The two main branches

Mubarak Al Sabah had fifteen children, eight sons and seven daughters.

Sons of Mubarak Al Sabah:

Jaber Sheikh of Kuwait (1915–17), Salim Sheikh of Kuwait (1917–21), Nasser, Fahad, Saud, Hamad, Sabah and Abdullah the offspring of two of them however - Jaber and Salem - rotate the Emirship of Kuwait, in the meantime the situation have been changed because other offspring have been appointed to the most important ministries which will lead them to succeed the throne of the state of Kuwait.

Family tree

Sheikh 1718–64
Sheikh 1764–1814
Sheikh 1814–59
Sheikh 1859–66
Sheikh 1866–92
Sheikh 1892–96
Sheikh 1896–1915
Sheikh 1915–17
Sheikh 1917–21
Sheikh 1921–50
Emir 1950–65
Emir 1965–77
Emir 1977–2006
Emir 2006 – present
Crown Prince
Interior minister
Emir 2006
Muhammad al-Sabah,
Former Foreign Minister
Former Prime Minister 2006–2011


The Emir: His Highness The Amir Sheikh Sabah Al Sabah

The Crown Prince: His Highness Sheikh Nawaf Al Sabah

The Prime Minister: His Highness Sheikh Nasser Al Sabah

Other notable members of Al-Sabah

  • Salem Al Homoud Al Jaber Al-Sabah, Amiri Guards creator
  • Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, Former Prime Minister of Kuwait
  • Yaghoub Al K.Al Sabah, chief of Kuwait police
  • Salem Al-Ali A-Sabah, chief of the National Guard
  • Mesha'al Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, deputy chief of National Guard
  • Muhammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister
  • Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, current Prime Minister of Kuwait, former Minister of Defense
  • Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister of State for Development Affairs and Minister of State for Housing Affairs
  • Hussah Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah, Director of Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah (Kuwait National Museum)
  • Saud Nasser Al-Saud Al-Sabah, former Kuwait ambassador to the United States, former Oil Minister.
  • Nayirah al-Sabah, daughter of Saud Nasser Al-Saud Al-Sabah, provided testimony as "Nurse Nayirah" to the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus before the Gulf War
  • Khalid Al-Sabah, Royal Majestic Charity Foundation
  • Salem Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah (1938–2007), former Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, Interior, Social Affairs and Foreign Minister
  • Jaber Al-Khaled Al-Sabah, former Minister of the Interior
  • Sheikh Faisal H. M Al Sabah
  • Souad Mohammed al Sabah, poet, winner of the 2012 Manhae Prize.

Family meetings

The emir of Kuwait holds family meetings and gatherings every year during which they discuss many important issues. The emir holds meetings with the head people of the Al Sabah family who are 40 years old or older.

Current events

Emir Saad Al-Sabah was removed by parliamentary action after a prolonged stalemate following the death of the previous emir, Jaber, on 15 January 2006. He was earlier offered the chance to abdicate after taking power provisionally as stipulated by the constitution, but his inability to recite the oath of office prevented his ratification by parliament.

The then prime minister, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, was nominated for the post of emir by invoking Article 3 of the Kuwaiti constitution. He was sworn in on 29 January 2006 and is the current ruler.

The emir nominated his brother, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, as crown prince. The emir also nominated his nephew, Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah, as prime minister.

In May 2008, the former emir, Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah, died after battling health problems for years. He was buried the following day in accordance with Muslim tradition. He was 78 years old.

See also

Kuwait portal


  • Al Sabah: History and Genealogy of Kuwait’s Ruling Family 1752-1987 by Alan Rush (Ithaca Press, 1987)
  • Al-Sabah (Kuwait)
  • Records of Kuwait ed., Alan Rush (8 vols. Archive Editions, 1989)
  • Unavailable
    • Article listing positions of a few Sabah's
    • Detailed Genealogy of the Sabah family
    • Former emir dies in Kuwait
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