CSIS is pleased to host His Excellency Ali Ibrahim Al-Naimi, former Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to reflect on a career that spanned more than six decades in the Kingdom’s energy work, including 21 years (1995-2016) as Minister of Petroleum.
Al-Naimi was born in 1935 into a Bedouin family in eastern Arabia. At 12, he joined the then U.S.-run oil company Aramco. Educated by the company, then at the American University in Beirut, in 1959 Al-Naimi took a degree in geology from Lehigh University, followed by a masters in hydrology and geo-economics at Stanford University.
He held a wide range of posts in Aramco before, in 1988, becoming the first Saudi to hold the post of CEO. He led the company through the Gulf War. In 1995, he became Saudi oil minister, de facto leader of OPEC, and headed the Kingdom’s UN climate change negotiating team.
In addition to his energy work, Al-Naimi spearheaded efforts to establish the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) and the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC).
Forbes Magazine routinely identified Al-Naimi as one of the 50 most influential people in the world. His memoirs, Out of the Desert, were recently published by Penguin Random House.