Long-serving Saudi oil minister Ahmed Zaki Yamani dies at 90

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Ahmed Zaki Yamani, long-time Saudi Arabia oil minister who led the Kingdom in the 1973 oil crisis, nationalized the state power corporation and was later seized by the assassin Carlos the Jackal, who died Tuesday in London.

He was 90. He was 90.

Without a reason, Saudi state television announced his death.

It said he'd be buried in Mecca, the holiest Muslim city.

Known for its western-style business suits and quiet, measured sounds, Yamani led Saudi Arabia to dominate the petroleum exporting countries from its beginnings in the Organisation.

The Kingdom still remains a dominant force in the group today and its actions tear through the petroleum industry, which impact prices from the barrel down to the pump for petrol.

"Yamani became the representative and icon of the modern age of oil to the multinational oil industry, the politicians and senior leaders, the media and the world as a whole," wrote Daniel Yergin in his seminal book The Prize of the oil industry. "His profile, with his wide limpid, almost unblinding brown eyes and his gently curled Van Dyke beard, was f

Yamani became oil minister in 1962, heading the ministry until 1986, and playing a central role in the emerging OPEC oil cartel as producers around the world started attempting to dictate prices on the world market, which had previously controlled Western economic policy.

Yamani was Saudi's first representative on the Governors' Board of the OPEC in 1961. He became popular not from his position for hysterics that followed years of instability around the Middle East, but rather for the ever calming diplomatic style that Saudi ministers attempted to emulate after him.

But the style of an oil kingpin known by the "Sheik" was challenged by times that involved global energy market upheavals, particularly during the Mideast War in 1973, in which Egypt, Syria and its allies launched a surprise assault on Israel on Judea's holy day, Yom Kippur.

When the US stepped into support for Israel, under the leadership of President Richard Nixon, OPEC Arab suppliers promised to decrease their supply by five per cent a month. As Nixon proceeded to give rise to a decision known as the "oil weapons," a complete embargo on the US and other nations.

Prices in the United States would increase by 40% leading to fuel shortages and long pump queues. Oil prices would quadruple nationwide, as is currently seen in the Gulf of Arab countries.

Yamani was twice in history in 1975. He was just outside the room when a nephew of King Faisal murdered the monarch in March.

In December, Yamani found itself in Vienna as one of those that had been taken hostage in the OPEC Office, an incident that killed three people and saw 11 confiscated.

Yamani subsequently identified Carlos, a Venezuelaian whose real name is Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, as "a ruthless terrorist operating with cold blood and surgical precision," after which Yamani and his bodyguard entourage traveled all over.

Yamani also supervised what would become after the oil crisis of 1973 of the full nationalization of the Arab American oil co. Today it's best called Saudi Arabian Oil co. or Aramco, the kingdom's largest employer and revenue stream.

Yamani was born in Mecca in 1930, when camels still roamed the Holy City Streets. His grandparents and father were theological professors, and Islamic lawyers. Last, he studied at New York University and Harvard.

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