After the death of Faisal bin Turki in 1865, years of fraternal discord between his sons, Saud and Abdullah, had weakened the House of Saud and made it vulnerable to its enemies, in particular, the powerful leader of the Shammar tribe, Muhammad bin Rashid. Throughout this period, in their confrontations with the Al Rashid, the Saudis were regularly worsted until almost the whole of the Saudi domains were under Muhammad bin Rashid's control.
When Abdul Rahman, son of Faisal bin Turki, emerged as the undisputed leader of the House of Saud in 1889, he attacked and took Riyadh. The patience of Muhammad bin Rashid was exhausted by the Saudis' persistent resistance to his authority and he determined to take decisive action. He laid siege to Riyadh. The siege ended in a negotiated settlement but, soon after, at the battle of al-Mulayda, the Saudi forces were defeated, and Abdul Rahman and his family had no choice but to flee.
After periods of respite with the Al Murrah tribe on the edge of the Rub al-Khali (Empty Quarter) and in Bahrain, Abdul Rahman and his family took refuge as exiles in Kuwait.