Early Friday, January 22, 2015, 90-year-old King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia died. He is succeeded by the Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, his half-brother and Deputy Prime Minister.
King Abdullah’s death comes as no surprise, according to The Guardian, who reported that his late December hospital stay due to pneumonia triggered rumors of his death at that time.
The Saudi State TV announced his death Friday morning by sharing a statement attributed to now King Salman:
“His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and all members of the family and the nation mourn the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who passed away at exactly 1 a.m. this morning (5 p.m. Thursday ET).”
NBC News shared that recitations of the Quran were broadcast across the nation in the late King Abdullah’s honor.
President Obama said, “I always valued King Abdullah’s perspective and appreciated our genuine and warm friendship,” in a statement noted by NBC News. He was further quoted by Bloomberg, as providing the following statement via e-mail:
“King Abdullah’s vision was dedicated to the education of his people and to greater engagement with the world. The closeness and strength off the partnership between our two countries is part of King Abdullah’s legacy.”
King Abdullah’s successor, King Salman, 79, comes to rule at a time of civil unrest and militant attacks both in his own country as well as neighboring countries. His leadership skills are well established, however, with his successful governorship of Riyadh and service as Deputy Prime Minister. Some have expressed concern regarding his health, but as previously reported, a new Crown Prince has already been chosen: the 69-year-old Second Deputy Prime Minister and another half-brother to the late King Abdullah, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz.