Nazer was born in Jeddah in 1932. He hails from leading family based in Jeddah. He attended Victoria College in Alexandria, Egypt. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in international relations and a master of arts degree in political science, both taken from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He completed his master study at the UCLA in 1958.
Nazer began his career at the ministry of petroleum. He was among "the promising young technocrats" under Abdullah Al Tariki, the first Saudi oil minister. More specifically, Tariki made him assistant director general of the petroleum and minerals directorate in 1958. Nazer was sent to Venezuela in 1960 to be informed about international oil matters. In addition, Nazer represented Saudi Arabia at OPEC's founding meetings in 1961. Then, he served as deputy of then oil minister Ahmed Zaki Yamani until 1968.
Next, Nazer was appointed head of the central planning authority. His first ministerial post was the minister of planning which he began to hold in 1975 after the central planning authority was reorganized as an independent ministry. Therefore, he actively dealt with the Saudi Arabia’s first five development plans, and contributed to the formation of the concept for Saudi Arabia’s two major industrial cities, Jubail and Yanbu. In addition, Nazer guided the construction and management of these facilities. Then, he became the head of the royal commission for Jubail.
He was appointed acting minister of petroleum and mineral resources by King Fahd on 30 October 1986 and replaced Ahmed Zaki Yamani. He became the third oil minister of Saudi Arabia after Abdullah Al Tariki and Zaki Yamani on 24 December 1986. Nazer's appointment was considered to be a shift in Saudi Arabia's policy in oil prices and production. Nazer continued to hold the portfolio of planning minister. His term as oil minister lasted until August 1995, and he was replaced by Ali Naimi.
Nazer was also appointed the board chairman of the Aramco, replacing John J. Kelberer, in April 1988. Nazer was the first Saudi board chairman of the company. Following his appointment, he began to rationalize the company's operations and to nationalize it due to its low profitability for Saudi Arabia. Because the company was an American-registered entity. Thus, the company was nationalized, leading to its transformation as a pure Saudi entity which was renamed the Saudi Arabian Oil Company or more commonly Saudi Aramco on 8 November 1988.
In 2005, Nazer was named as Saudi ambassador to Egypt by King Abdullah. He was relieved of his duties by King Abdullah in March 2011 due to a controversy about remarks exchanged between him and a frustrated Saudi woman stranded in the Cairo Airport during the Egyptian uprise in February 2011. Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Kattan replaced him as ambassador.
Nazer is known to be a poet and soccer fan. He was awarded an honorary degree by American University in Cairo in 1991. He died on 14 November 2015 at the age of 83 in the United States.
Nazer published a book titled Power of a Third Kind in 1998. His book, written in English and published by Praeger, is about the effects of the Western-dominated electronic age on the world.