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King Faisal Foundation

By:
Saleh Abdul-Rehaman Al-Maniʿ
Source:
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World What is This? Provides comprehensive scholarly coverage of the full geographical and historical extent of Islam

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King Faisal Foundation

The King Faisal Foundation is a philanthropic organization established in 1976 by the eight sons of King Fayṣal ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Āl Saʿūd (1906–1975), who play a major role in the civic and cultural life of Saudi Arabia. Its purpose is to promote, within Saudi Arabia and abroad, all charitable endeavors that the late king strove to accomplish, namely, helping fellow Muslims, expanding Islamic daʿwah (missionary activity), and fostering solidarity among Muslim states. The foundation publishes books and journals, and encourages academic and intellectual cooperation with similar foundations and academic centers around the world. The foundation is composed of three distinct entities: the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, the King Faisal International Prize, and the King Faisal Foundation General Secretariat. The director general of the foundation is Prince Khālid al-Fayṣal, emir of Mecca Province. Most of the high-ranking posts of the foundation, particularly in the finance and investment section, are held by Saudis.

In 2008, the research center 's library held approximately 195,515 books, over 4,080 periodicals in sixteen languages, 25,900 manuscripts, and 101,159 M.A. and Ph.D. dissertations. The children 's library attached to the center provides a reading space for eighty children, and it holds 20,500 children 's books and serials in Arabic, English, and French. The computer search services of the center provide college students and researchers, free of charge, with full bibliographies on any topic related to the Arab world and Islam. The King Faisal Center for Research hosts a number of visiting foreign academics working on their dissertations and research on Saudi Arabia and Islam.

The King Faisal International Prize, valued at 350,000 Saudi riyals (approximately $93,000), is awarded annually to outstanding international figures whose contributions are universally recognized in five major fields: service to Islam, Islamic studies, Arabic literature, medicine, and science. Since the inception of the prize in 1979, an average of six scholars per year, totaling 195, from thirty-nine countries, have won this award.

In financing philanthropic projects in Islamic states, the foundation oversees a multitude of programs directed to nongovernmental institutions, particularly schools, orphanages, and hospitals. This aid is independent of any assistance programs provided to these countries by the Saudi government. The only requirement is that such bodies must conform to the sunnah (authentic teachings) of the Prophet and be run on sound business principles.

The foundation also encourages young students and scholars from the Muslim world to pursue medical and engineering studies in advanced industrial countries. Open to both men and women, most scholarships have gone to Muslim students from countries other than Saudi Arabia. Since 1991, seventy-three students have received full scholarships for graduate studies at western universities.

Structurally, the foundation 's secretariat is split into two main divisions: the investment section and the programs and research section. A steering committee coordinates the work of the two divisions. The foundation owns a corporation with large holdings, including twelve commercial companies. These holdings include a large shopping mall in Riyadh, a residential building, two high-rise office buildings, two five-star international hotels in Riyadh, a supermarket, and a modern boarding school. The foundation also owns two more shopping centers in the southern Saudi cities of Abhā and Khamīs Mushayt. The foundation has established Al-Faisal University, with headquarters in Riyadh, a women's college (Effet College) in Jiddah, a Manpower Institute, and a Tourism and Hospitality College. The foundation houses an Islamic Art Gallery with annual exhibitions of fine examples of calligraphy, silver, manuscripts, weapons, painting, and bookbinding. It is also planning to establish a graduate institute for strategic studies.

The investment section of the foundation actively deals in shares, stocks, and bonds, and it holds partnerships in some business and tourist ventures in eastern Saudi Arabia. Earnings from these investments since 1976 have been directed toward financing some 156 projects in thirty-eight countries.

The King Faisal Center has been very active in research and has published some 187 books. It also publishes a quarterly annotated bibliography of Islam and the modern world, Al-Faisal Journal, and three other journals dealing with general science, literature, and linguistics. The foundation produces a multitude of pamphlets, a newsletter, and an annual report, mostly in Arabic. It has an Internet site in English and Arabic.

See also DAʿWAH, subentry onINSTITUTIONALIZATION; and SAUDI ARABIA.

Bibliography

  • King Faisal Center For Islamic Studies. Daleel Mojaz (A Brief Directory). Riyadh, a.h. 1429 (2008). In Arabic. It contains rich data on the activities of the Center and the Foundation.
  • King Faisal Foundation. Al-Markaz: A Periodical of The Foundation 's News. 25th Issue. 1426 a.h. (2005).
  • King Faisal International Prize, Winners ’ Profile: King Faisal International Prize2007 (a.h. 1427). In Arabic and English.
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