The Saudi Connection Of The Ruler Of An Erstwhile Indian Princely State


The Nizam of Hyderabad, Osman Ali Khan, was the richest man in the world (basically the Jeff Bezos of the early 20th century). Photos of him with King Saud have resurfaced on some expat groups. We dug deeper on this and we did find some interesting connections. Read on.

One of the oldest records linking the monarch of Hyderabad with the Hejaz comes from Osman Ali Khan’s ancestor, Afzal Ud Daulah, who was the 5th nizam. Afzal Ud Daulah bought properties in Makkah and Madinah to house his state’s pilgrims. These properties were called Rubath and lodging for pilgrims was provided here for free. This was back in the 19th century.

Subsequent Nizams of Hyderabad added to these properties with some being walking distance from the Great Mosque in Makkah. At one point in time, it is said the Nizam of Hyderabad owned up to 30 properties in Makkah alone.

However, not all these properties survive though as many were acquired by the Saudi government for expansion works on the Two Holy Mosques.

To this day, there is a Rubath in Makkah that is open for pilgrims as has been the case for over a century and lodging continues to be provided for free.

Many of the erstwhile nobility of India like the Nawab of Arcot also had rubaths built in the two Holy cities but unlike them, Hyderabad’s connection with Saudi Arabia was deeper.

Osman Ali Khan is said to have installed a new electric plant and lights at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. The letters containing the original proposal by the Nizam are on display at the India Office.

The letters show his intent to send his Chief Engineer, Nawab Ahsan Yar Jung, to Madinah to oversee the project.

In the 1950s, King Saud paid a visit to Hyderabad to meet with the Nizam, who had previously been one of the largest benefactors to the Holy Mosques’ construction projects.

A huge banquet was held in a hilltop palace called the Falaknuma in King Saud’s honor.

Today in Hyderabad, there’s a sprawling complex of shops in the older part of the city called the Madinah Building. All rent that was generated from this building was donated to the residents of Madinah and hence the name.

King Saud was presented with a model of the structure on his trip to Hyderabad by the Alaudin Family who were the main benefactors of the building.

Eventually, all expansion and maintenance works of the Two Holy Mosques were directly funded by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. This practice has continued to this very day.


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