Suliman Olayan was born in 1918 into a merchant family in Unayzah, an oasis town located in north-central Saudi Arabia. For centuries, Unayzah had been a haven for caravans venturing across the Najd, Saudi Arabia's heartland. The merchant families of Unayzah played a vital role in opening central Arabia to trade with the outside world.
Orphaned as a very young child, Suliman was raised by his grandmother. When he was about 10 years old, Suliman left Unayzah for Bahrain where there were more opportunities and better economic prospects even before the age of oil. Suliman traveled with his older brother Hamad by camel to the Arabian Gulf coast and then by boat to Bahrain.
Photo: An old building in Unayzah.