Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Dies at 90

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Dies at 90Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Dies at 90

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz died on Friday, weeks after he was admitted to hospital, royal officials announced.

Abdullah, who had ruled since 2005 and was said to be aged about 90, had been suffering from a lung infection. His 79-year-old half-brother Salman, has been confirmed as the new king, BBC said in a report.

Within hours of his accession to the throne of the oil-rich kingdom, King Salman vowed to maintain the same policies as his predecessors.

“We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment,” he said in a speech broadcast on state television.

Abdullah had suffered frequent bouts of ill health in recent years, and King Salman had recently taken on the ailing king’s responsibilities. A statement said Abdullah had died at 01:00 a.m. local time. The late king was to be buried in an unmarked grave immediately after Friday prayers.

Another of the late king’s half-brothers, Muqrin, who is in his late 60s, has been named the new crown prince, according to an official statement.

Abdullah, Salman and Muqrin are all sons of King Abdulaziz, usually referred to as Ibn Saud, who died in 1953 and was touted as the founder of modern Saudi Arabia.

King Salman called on the royal family’s Allegiance Council to recognize Muqrin as his heir. The appointment was seen as a move to avert widespread speculation about the immediate path of the royal succession in the world’s top oil exporter.


King Salman has been part of the ruling clique of princes for decades and is thought likely to continue the main thrusts of Saudi strategic policy, including maintaining the alliance with the United States and working towards energy market stability.

Salman spent 48 years as governor of Riyadh Province before becoming crown prince and defense minister. During his five decades of ruling, he was reportedly adept at managing the delicate balance of clerical, tribal and princely interests that determine Saudi policy, while maintaining good relations with the West.

The new king’s profile was updated on his official Twitter account, where he wrote, “I ask God to help me succeed in my service of the dear [Saudi] people.”

  West’s Reaction

Western leaders were quick to offer condolences on the death of the Saudi king. US President Barack Obama expressed his sympathies, and those of the American people, on Abdullah’s death.

“As a leader, he was always candid and had the courage of his convictions. One of those convictions was his steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the US-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond,” he said.

Vice President Joe Biden will lead a presidential delegation to Saudi Arabia to offer condolences and pay respect to Abdullah’s family and the country, he announced on Twitter.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the US had “lost a friend” with Abdullah’s death. He commended the king for investing in Saudi Arabia’s people, infrastructure and economic development.

Former President George H. W. Bush said he was “deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend and partner King Abdullah.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron also said King Abdullah would be remembered for his “commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah II cut short a visit to Davos, Switzerland, to travel to Saudi Arabia, as Jordan’s royal court declared 40 days of mourning.

Abdullah was the 13th of the 45 sons of King Abdulaziz. He is believed to have been born in August 1924 in Riyadh, although there is some dispute about his actual birth date.

In 1962 he was appointed commander of the Saudi National Guard, where he earned the respect and loyalty of the desert tribes.

When he came to the throne in 2005 he succeeded another half-brother, Fahd.

However, he had already been Saudi Arabia’s de-facto leader for 10 years because his predecessor had been debilitated by a stroke.