Gifts of friendship: What Saudi founder King Abdul Aziz gave to US President Roosevelt

One of the gifts that Saudi Arabia’s King Abdul Aziz gave to Franklin D. Roosevelt
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Updated 14 February 2020

Gifts of friendship: What Saudi founder King Abdul Aziz gave to US President Roosevelt

Col. William A. Eddy, the US diplomatic representative to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who arranged the historic 1945 meeting between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ibn Saud, and served as interpreter, left a fascinating record of the gifts given to the US president by the Saudi king.

In his 1954 account of the meeting, Eddy told how, after the two men had parted company on the USS Quincy, he was asked by the president’s daughter, Anna Roosevelt Boettiger, “to come below and explain to her the contents of several enormous parcels” that had been delivered to the ship addressed to Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mrs. Boettiger.

“I went down to find a royal parade of gifts on view in a cabin,” he wrote. “There were several complete full-dress harim costumes, beautifully embroidered in many colors of silk.”

Arabian women, Eddy noted, were “limited in their opportunities to impress others with these beautiful gowns since they are worn only indoors and seen only by the husband, father, sons and other ladies.”

In addition to the clothes, “the gifts included several vials of rarely tinted glass, others of alabaster, containing the perfumes of Araby, including the favorite of all-attar of roses. Also there were large pieces of uncut amber, the like of whose size I have never seen, from the bottom of the Red Sea.”

From the eastern coasts of Arabia “there were pearl rings, pearl earrings, pearl-studded bracelets and anklets, and belts woven of gold thread with cunning devices, the skill which has reached its highest perfection in Saudi Arabia, the crowning achievement in handiwork.”

The principal present from the king to the president, “a beautiful diamond-encrusted sword, had not been delivered to me at the airplane in time for me to take to Alexandria,” where Eddy was scheduled to rejoin the president. “The king, however, directed that it be entrusted to me and that I be made responsible for seeing that it reached Mr. Roosevelt.”

In the end, a special military courier flew with the sword to Algiers, the next stop on the president’s journey back to the United States.

Many of the gifts given by Ibn Saud to the US president and his wife and daughter are in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York state.

They include a beautiful steel dagger that has a hammered-gold hilt inset with two large and eight smaller diamonds, which was created by jewelers at Hofuf and is identical to one owned by Ibn Saud.

Craftsmen at Hofuf were also responsible for the sword, which has a decorated gold handle and a leather scabbard partially covered with chased and filigreed gold and set with 33 diamonds.

Among the clothing is an elaborately embroidered black and gold abaya made from camel hair and metallic thread, and trimmed in gold, red and green.

Saud Ahmad Al-Hokail, senior adviser at Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology

Updated 07 June 2020

Saud Ahmad Al-Hokail, senior adviser at Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology

Saud Ahmad Al-Hokail has been a senior adviser on human capital at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) since November 2017. 

Al-Hokail served as the director general of the human resources department at the MCIT from 2015 to 2017. He also served as the director of the human resources department at the e-government program “Yasser” from 2013 to 2017.

Prior to that, he held the position of director of the human resources department at the Saudi Human Resources Development Fund from 2006 to 2013.

Al-Hokail has previously said of his work: “The most important asset to any company are the talented human resources’ capabilities, even more important than the fixed or current assets, because they are irreplaceable and indispensable.

“Let us not forget that today’s digital age relies heavily on the human element. Therefore, organizations should build an environment conducive to the creativity and innovation of human resources.”

Al-Hokail earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from King Saud University and completed a human resources diploma from the British Academy. He holds a certificate in KPI-A from the Strategy Management Group. 

He is a proud holder of the Gulf Cooperation Council Medal for Civil Service and Administration Development, and is a member of the Saudi Association of Administration.