Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani was born in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, on 30th June 1930. He is a lawyer by profession, with Master's degrees from New York University School of Law and Harvard Law School, whilst also having a doctorate from the University of Exeter. Before that, he studied at the University of Cairo and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Law in 1951.
He was Saudi Arabia's Minister of Oil (Petroleum) and Mineral Resources from 1962 until 1986, first Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and is regarded as the architect of a number of the Kingdom’s modern laws and regulations. In 1990, he founded the Centre for Global Energy Studies (CGES), an energy market analysis group in London. His other areas of interest include Islamic Law, and the written heritage of the Muslim world.
Inspired by his father and grandfather, both of whom were highly respected Islamic scholars and judges, Sheikh Yamani planned to become a teacher but, on leaving University, he took a job at the Ministry of Finance in Makkah, whilst also teaching Islamic law. Soon after, the Saudi government sent him to New York University's Comparative Law Institute for non-American lawyers at NYU Law School and in 1955 he received a Master's degree in Comparative Jurisprudence.
Sheikh Yamani spent the next year at Harvard Law School earning his second Master's degree in 1956 and then returned to the Ministry of Finance, joining the new Department of Zakat and Income Tax. The same year Sheikh Yamani founded the first law firm in Jeddah, bearing his name. This was subsequently expanded, to include branches in Riyadh and Bahrain. One of his activities in his early professional career was to write articles in Saudi papers. These arose interest in various circles. His later writings included many papers and contributions to a wide variety of conferences. These contributions covered several areas such as oil, geopolitics, Islamic law and history.
His later publications include a book on the status of women in Islam. This appeared in Arabic in 2004, then in English in 2005. It was later translated into Persian and several other languages.
In 1988 Sheikh Yamani established The Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation through The Yamani Cultural and Charitable Foundation, which endeavours to preserve and publish historically important Islamic works.