Saudi oil minister Ahmed Zaki Yamani dies at 90

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Ahmed Zaki Yamani, former oil minister in Saudi Arabia who dominated the dominion by the 1973 oil disaster, nationalized his state-owned power firm after which discovered himself held hostage by the murderer Carlos the Jackal, died Tuesday in London. He was 90 years outdated.

Saudi state tv reported his demise, with out proposing a trigger. He mentioned he could be buried within the holy Muslim metropolis of Mecca.

Identified for his Western-style enterprise fits and muted, measured tones, Yamani helped Saudi Arabia set up itself within the Group of the Petroleum Exporting Nations from delivery. The dominion remains to be a heavyweight to the group in the present day and its choices have repercussions on the oil business, affecting costs per barrel on the gasoline pump.

“For the worldwide oil business, politicians and senior officers, journalists and the entire world, Yamani has turn into the consultant, and even the image, of the brand new period of petroleum,” writer Daniel Yergin wrote in his founding e book on the oil business “The Value”. “His face, along with his giant, limpid brown eyes, seemingly unblinking, and his cropped, barely curved Van Dyke beard, has turn into acquainted to the planet.

Yamani grew to become minister of petroleum in 1962 and can lead the ministry till 1986. He performed an important position within the fledgling OPEC oil cartel as producers all over the world started to attempt to dictate costs on the world market. beforehand dominated by the financial insurance policies of Western international locations.

Yamani was the primary Saudi consultant to the OPEC board of governors in 1961. His place made himself recognized not for the hysterics who accompanied years of unrest throughout the Center East, however for a constantly calm type of negotiation that Saudi ministers after him sought to emulate.

However that type for an oil kingpin recognized to the honorary “sheikh” could be examined by the instances, which included upheavals within the international power market. This was very true in the course of the Center East Battle of 1973, by which Egypt, Syria and its allies launched a shock assault on Israel on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.

When america underneath President Richard Nixon rallied in help of Israel, Arab producers in OPEC agreed to chop their provide by 5% per thirty days. When Nixon continued his help, the choice spawned what would turn into “the oil weapon” – a complete embargo on america and different international locations.

Costs in america would improve by 40%, resulting in gasoline shortages and lengthy strains on the pump. World oil costs would quadruple, resulting in the wealth we see in the present day within the Arab Gulf States.

In 1975, Yamani met twice at main moments in historical past. He was standing simply outdoors the room when a nephew of King Faisal murdered the monarch in March.

In December, Yamani was amongst these taken hostage at OPEC headquarters in Vienna, an assault that killed three folks and noticed 11 seized. The assault ultimately noticed all pro-Palestinian activists and people held hostage freed.

Yamani later described Carlos, a Venezuelan actual identify Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, as a “ruthless terrorist who operates with surgical precision in chilly blood.” From that time on, Yamani traveled with an entourage of bodyguards wherever he went.

Yamani additionally oversaw what would turn into the total nationalization of the Arabian American Oil Co. after the 1973 oil disaster. At the moment, it’s higher generally known as the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco, a serious employer. of the dominion and its primary supply of earnings.

In 1986, Saudi King Fahd sacked Yamani with a laconic assertion launched by the state-run Saudi Information Company. On the time, it was believed that Yamani disagreed with the king in his insistence that OPEC develop a everlasting system of manufacturing quotas and that the dominion would obtain a bigger share of the overall. Saudi Arabia lastly agreed to a different interim deal.

Yamani was born in Mecca in 1930, when camels nonetheless roamed the streets of the holy metropolis. His father and grandfather have been spiritual lecturers and Islamic attorneys. He ultimately studied at New York College and Harvard. Twice married, he’s survived by a number of youngsters and grandchildren.


Comply with Jon Gambrell on Twitter at

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