23 Feb. 2021 (AlJazeera News)
Ahmed Zaki Yamani – a long-serving oil minister in Saudi Arabia who led the kingdom through the 1973 oil crisis and the nationalisation of its state energy company, and later found himself kidnapped by the assassin Carlos the Jackal – has died in London. He was 90.
Saudi state television reported his death on Tuesday without mentioning a cause. It said he would be buried in the holy city of Mecca.
Yamani became oil minister in 1962 and would lead the ministry until 1986. He served a crucial role in the nascent oil cartel OPEC as producers around the world began to try to dictate prices to the world market previously dominated by the economic policies of Western nations.
In 1975, Yamani found himself twice at major moments in history. He was there when a nephew of King Faisal assassinated the monarch in March.
In December, he found himself among those taken hostage at OPEC headquarters in Vienna, an attack that killed three people and saw 11 seized. The attack ended up seeing all the pro-Palestinian assailants, led by “Carlos the Jackal” and the hostages released.
Afterwards, Yamani described Carlos, a Venezuelan whose real name is Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, as a “ruthless terrorist who operates with cold-blooded, surgical precision”. From that moment on, Yamani travelled with an entourage of bodyguards everywhere he went.
Yamani was born in Mecca in 1930. His father and grandfather were religious teachers and Islamic lawyers. He ultimately studied at New York University and Harvard. Twice married, he is survived by multiple children and grandchildren.