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Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Born 27 June 1956(1956-06-27) (age 65)
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Nationality Saudi Arabian
Alma mater Syracuse University
Sultan bin Salman Al Saud
Sultan bin Salman Al Saud
Rank Colonel, Royal Saudi Air Force

Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Arabic language: سلطان بن سلمان بن عبد العزيز آل سعود‎) (born 27 June 1956) is a former Royal Saudi Air Force pilot who flew aboard the American STS-51-G Space Shuttle mission as a payload specialist, and a member of the House of Saud. He is thus the first member of a royal family to be an astronaut, and the first Arab and Muslim to fly in space.

Early life and education[]

Sultan was born in Riyadh on 27 June 1956.[1][2] He is the second son of King Salman.[3] His older brother Fahd was born 20 July 1955 and died in 2000. His mother is Sultana bint Turki Al Sudairi who died in July 2011.[4] She was a daughter of King Salman's uncle, Turki bin Ahmed Al Sudairi,[5] who was one of the former governors of al-Jouf, Jizan and Asir Province and was a participant in the unification campaign under His cousin, the founder of the Kingdom Abdulaziz ibn Saud.[6] and Prince Sultan is a full brother of Fahd, Ahmed, Abdulaziz, Faisal and Hassa (born 1974).[7][8]

Sultan completed his elementary and secondary education in Riyadh.[9] He received a B.A in Mass communications from the University of Denver[10] and a master's degree in social and political science with distinction from Syracuse University in 1999.[1][2]

Early experience[]

Sultan bin Salman started his career in 1982 as a researcher in the department of international communications at the Ministry of Information in Saudi Arabia.[11] His tenure lasted until 1984.[10] He served as deputy director of the Saudi media committee for the Saudi athletes participating in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Later that year, the department of TV advertising was created at the Ministry of Information, and he was appointed its acting director.[11]

From 17 June through 24 June 1985, he flew as a payload specialist on STS-51-G Discovery. As one of a seven-member international crew, which also included American and French astronauts, he represented the Arab Satellite Communications Organization (ARABSAT) in deploying their satellite, ARABSAT-1B. Sultan also holds the record for being the youngest person to fly on the Space Shuttle, at the age of 28.[9][11]

Later, he assisted in establishing the Association of Space Explorers, an international organization comprising all astronauts and cosmonauts who have been in space, and served on its executive board of directors for several years.[11]

Portrait of STS 51-G crew

In 1985, Sultan recorded a commercial message that was broadcast on MTV during the Live Aid concert event. His message mentioned his recent trip on the Space Shuttle and was one of 33 such by notable individuals including Caesar Chavez, Coretta Scott King, Carl Sagan, Jesse Jackson and Peter Ueberroth. Sultan bin Salman served in the Royal Saudi Air Force beginning in 1985 and held the rank of lieutenant colonel.[11][12] He retired from the air force in 1996 with the rank of colonel.[13]

Patrick Baudry and Prince Sultan in 1985

At the time of his spaceflight, Sultan had over 1,000 cumulative hours of flight time.,[10] as of 2012, he has over 5,000 flight hours as a military and civilian pilot.[14]


Since 2009 Sultan bin Salman has served as the President and Chairman of the Board with the rank of a Minister of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH). He had served as the Commission's Secretary General since its inception in 2000.[13][15] It is claimed that as Secretary-General, he contributed significantly to the improvement of Saudi Arabia's tourism and national heritage strategy, and organizational building and innovation in the Saudi government.[15][16]


Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Chairman & President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, 2016

Sultan bin Salman also holds the following titles:[2][11][13]

  • Honorary Chairman for the Saudi Society for Archeological Studies, King Saud University
  • Vice-Chairman of the Historic Jeddah Development Committee (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  • Chairman of the Advisory Committee for the King Saud University College of Tourism and Antiquities
  • Member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee, Chairman of the Riyadh King Khaled International Airport (KKIA) Development Board – General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) 2008 – 2012
  • Chairman of the Board of Directors, the Disabled Children's Association (DCA), KSA since 1988.
  • Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, King Salman Center for Disability Research (KSCDR), KSA.
  • Founder and President, Al Turath, KSA (an organization dedicated to the preservation and development of Saudi national heritage)[17]
  • Founder and Chairman of the Board, Saudi Aviation Club
  • Chairman of the Board of Trustees, The King Salman Science Oasis (A science center and museum)
  • Founding Member and Member of the Board, The Graduates Society of Model Institute of the Capital Schools, Riyadh, KSA
  • Member of the Supreme Committee for the Development of Al-Dir'iyyah (a UNESCO World Heritage site) Ad-Diriyah, KSA
  • Member of the Board of Directors and Member of the Committee of the Center for the History of Makkah, King AbdulAziz Foundation for Research and Archives, KSA
  • Chairman of the Executive Committee, Princess Hassa Al Sudairi Charitable Foundation
  • Chairman of the Riyadh Social Responsibility Council, Riyadh Chamber of Commerce 2008 – 2010[18]


Regarding the connections between the state and the people, he argued that "Every citizen of this country is a responsible person. Here the state is the citizen and the citizen is the state. There is no division between the leadership and the citizens." He believes in building partnerships in all that is accomplished and have always advocated the importance of the role of local communities.[19]


Sultan bin Salman Al Saud has written several books:[20]

  • Early Documents in (Saudi) Architectural Legacy (2010) (وثائق مبكرة في مسيرة التراث العمراني) [21]
  • The Architectural Heritage(2 (سيرة في التراث العمراني) 010)[22]
  • HRH Prince Sultan Ben Salman Ben Abdel Aziz Al Saud, Dr. Ahmed Nabil Abo-khatwa Dr. Tarek Ali Fadaak (2011). One planet, the story of the first Arab mission to space. 
  • Saudi Arabia's heritage dimension : a lecture given in the Taylor Institution, Oxford on 1 June 2010 by Sulṭān ibn Salmān Ibn ʻAbd al-ʻAzīz
  • The Imagination Possible (الخيال الممكن)[23]

Al Saud also edited the following book:

  • Facey, William. Back to Earth: Adobe Building in Saudi Arabia, edited by Prince Sultan bin Salman Abd al-Aziz Al Sa'ud. Riyadh: Al Turath Foundation, 2015.[24]

Personal life[]

Sultan bin Salman is married to Princess Haifa, daughter of Prince Saud bin Faisal, the late minister of foreign affairs of Saudi Arabia.[25][26] They have three children.[3][27] His son, Salman (born 1990), attended St. Andrew's University in Scotland and Oxford University [26] and married a daughter of Prince Khalid bin Saud Al Saud, a great-grandson of Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman, the brother of King Abdulaziz in Riyadh on 5 December 2012.[28] His Daughter (born 1994) also attended St Andrews University.[26]

He enjoys flying, gliding, skiing and nature in his spare time.[11]

Sultan owns a farm in Diriyah which is a model of modern facilities in a historical setting. His farm reflects his attempt to retrace the origins of the Al Saud family, and to document the Al Saud's claims over the Najd.[29]


Sultan received the following awards/recognition:[30]

  • The King Abd Alaziz Sash, KSA (1985)
  • Certificate of Appreciation, NASA (1985)
  • NASA Space Flight Medal (1985)
  • Officier De La Légion D’Honneur (1985)
  • Resolution by the House of Representatives of Massachusetts, USA commending the first Saudi Arabian Astronaut in space (1985)
  • First Class Order of the Republic, Republic of Tunisia (1985)
  • Al Bahrain Medal First Class, Bahrain (1985)
  • Hilal-I Pakistan (Order of Pakistan) Pakistan (1986)
  • Key to the County of Los Angeles, California, U.S.A (1986)
  • Key to the City of Dallas, Texas, USA (1986)
  • Honorary PhD, The King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (1987)
  • Golden Medal of Science and Art, Sudan (1987)
  • Independence Medal First Class, United Arab Emirates (1987)
  • Medal of National Arts, Lebanon (1987)
  • Sultan Qaboos Medal, Sultanate of Oman (1987)
  • Independence Sash, State of Qatar (1987)
  • Medal of Sash First Class, State of Kuwait (1987)
  • Order of Merit First Class, Republic of Yemen (1987)
  • Medal of Stars, Grand Sash, China (1987)
  • Iraqi Air Force Badge, Republic of Iraq (1987)
  • Order of the Throne, Kingdom of Morocco (1987)
  • Military Honor Medal, Syrian Arab Republic (1988)
  • Commandeur De L’Ordre De La Grande Etoile De Djibouti - Republic of Djibouti
  • Medal for the Participation in the Gulf War, State of Kuwait (1993)
  • Liberation of Kuwait Medal, Second Class, State of Kuwait (1993)
  • Liberation of Kuwait Medal, Saudi Armed Forces (1993)
  • Certificate of Recognition, Space Studies Institute, Princeton, USA
  • Man of the Year for Benevolent Work 1997 - “In recognition of contributions to the Disabled” -Al Majallah Magazine, 21 December 1997, Issue No. 932.
  • Certificate of Recognition , “For outstanding leadership and inspiration dedicated to improving the quality of life for the mentally and physically challenged”, Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine, USA (1999)
  • Honorary Shield, Leading personalities in the Arab Tourism Sector, Arab World Tourism and Travel Exhibition, Lebanon. (2003)
  • “Man of the Year 2003” Prize in the field of Information Technology in the Kingdom offered by ITP Co. (2004)
  • Wisam Al-Hussain, Grade 1, an award presented by King Abdullah II, Kingdom of Jordan for efforts helping disabled people. (2005)
  • Chancellor’s Medal by Syracuse University (SU) on 16 November 2012 for his key role in helping to launch a collaborative partnership between SU and Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman University.[31]
  • CEO KSA Award for Tourism & Hospitality presented by the Arabian Budiness Magazine on 2012.
  • Leadership Award presented by the Arab Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) on 4 May 2014.
  • King Leopold Medal was awarded to Sultan on 26 January 2014 by the order of King Philip of Belgium in recognition for contribution in strengthening relations between Saudi Arabia and Belgium, especially in the field of archaeology.
  • Middle East Municipalities Award in Cultural & Heritage Preservation presented by the Institute of Middle East Excellence Awards on 16 October 2014
  • Harvard University named Sultan bin Salman as the Chief Representative of the Arabian Region and the Middle East in Tourism Leaders program on October 2014
  • Creativity Award presented by the Souq Okaz Higher Committee on January 2015
  • Arabic Leadership Award in the Care of Disabled presented by the Arab Hospital Federation on December 2015
  • UNWTO Award in recognition of His significant contribution to the development of tourism in the Middle East and His outstanding commitment to the global vision and work of the World Tourism Organization. Presented at the 22nd Session of the UNWTO General Assembly held in Chengdu, China on 12 September 2017



  1. 1.0 1.1 "Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz". Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiques. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Biographies of international astronauts". Space Facts. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz". Official Website. Archived from the original on 6 July 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  4. "Princess Sultana bint Turki Al Sudairi dies". Arab News. 1 August 2011. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2012. 
  5. "Sultana, wife of Riyadh Emir, passes away". 3 August 2011. Archived from the original on 28 December 2013. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  6. "Sultana bint Ahmad bin Muhammad al Sudairi". Datarabia. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  7. "Family Tree of Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud". Datarabia. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  8. "Kingdom mourns loss of princess". 3 August 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "A Prince in Space". January–February 1986. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "First Arab astronaut makes a royal tour of space". New York. 20 June 1985. pp. B12.,942020&dq=salman+bin+abdulaziz&hl=en. Retrieved 3 March 2013. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 "Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud Payload Specialist". NASA. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  12. Simon Henderson (1994). "After King Fahd" (Policy Paper). Washington Institute. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 "HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman". Prince Salman Center for Disability Research. Archived from the original on 2 December 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  14. Sultan Bin Salman bin AbdelAziz, Other qualifications
  15. 15.0 15.1 Abdul Ghafour,, P.K. (12 February 2008). "Prince Sultan Gets 4-Year Extension as SCT Secretary-General". Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  16. "Spotlight on the Saudi succession process". Al Arabiya. 16 June 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  17. "Crown Prince receives Lifetime Achievement Award in the field of Urban Heritage". National Built Heritage Forum. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  18. "About Us". DANA Gas. Archived from the original on 5 September 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  19. Teitelbaum, Joshua (4 April 2011). "Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and "the Day of Rage" that Wasn’t". BESA Center. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  20. books written by Sultan bin Salman Al Saud
  21. |Wathāʼiq mubakkirah fī masīrat al-turāth al-ʻumrānī on OCLC
  22. Sīra fi 't-turāt̲ al-ʻumrānī on OCLC
  23. al-Khayāl al-mumkin on OCLC
  24. Back to Earth on ArchNet
  25. Sabri Sharaf (2001). The House of Saud in Commerce: A Study of Royal Entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia. Sharaf Sabri. p. 142. ISBN 978-81-901254-0-6. Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 "Saudi Leadership Profiles: Prince Sultan bin Salman (5 January 2010)". Wikileaks. Archived from the original on 3 May 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  27. "Family tree of Sultan bin Salman". Datarabia. Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  28. "سمو ولي العهد يشرف حفل زواج حفيده الأمير سلمان بن سلطان من كريمة الأمير خالد بن سعود". 6 December 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  29. Joseph A. Kechichian (6 July 2001). Succession In Saudi Arabia. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-312-23880-3. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  30. "Recognition, Awards, and medals received by Prince Sultan Bin Salman Al Saud". [SCTA]. October 2013. 
  31. Chapman, Ken (16 November 2012). "Saudi Arabian Prince honored by Syracuse University". CNY Central. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 

External links[]

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