Ahmed Zaki Yamani, Saudi Oil Minister Who Led 1973 Embargo, Dies At 90

Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the Saudi Arabian oil minister who was the face of the 1973 oil embargo that created havoc for American drivers, died in London Tuesday at the age of 90. Saudi state television announced his passing but did not provide the cause of death.

Rise to Power: Born in Mecca to a family of religious teachers and Islamic lawyers, Yamani was educated at New York University and Harvard Law School. He was appointed as his nation's oil minister in 1962 and became the first Saudi representative to the board of governors of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The Oil Embargo: In 1973, Yamani led the Arab nation members of OPEC in reducing their oil exports by 5% a month after the U.S. backed Israel against Egypt and Syria in the Yom Kippur War.

The price of oil skyrocketed as a result, roiling global economies. In the U.S., drivers were forced to wait hours in unprecedented lines at gas stations, which often ran out of supplies before all drivers could reach the pumps.

Yamani would then lead the nationalization of Arabian American Oil Co., turning it into Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco, which became the nation's main revenue source.

In 1975, Yamani was witness to a pair of historic acts of violence: he was standing outside the room where King Faisal was assassinated and he was among the OPEC ministers taken hostage at the organization's Vienna headquarters.

Fall From Power: Yamani was dismissed from his job in 1986 by King Fahd. He would later launch the Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, which preserves historically important works of Islamic culture and the Center for Global Energy Studies, a London-based market analysis group.

Photo courtesy Gold Mercury International.

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