Shortly before the death of King Abdullah as Saudi Arabian Spiritual Head, the Kingdom had appointed his 79-year-old half-brother, Salman bin Abdulaziz, to the throne. His half-brother Prince Muqrin, a decade younger, is the new crown prince.
After today’s noon prayers at Riyadh’s Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Grand Mosque, the body of Abdullah, wrapped in a pale shroud, was carried from the mosque toward the cemetery where he was laid to rest, followed by a solemn procession of Saudi men in traditional dress.
The burial itself was a simple, swift ceremony. After the coffin was lowered into the ground, those present at the graveside — the royals closest to the late king — moved on to a royal palace, where they paid their respects to the new monarch.
The new King, Salman was received both by the Saudi royals and world leaders who came to express their condolences.
Ahead of the funeral, condolences and remembrances poured in from all corners of the globe.
“To God we belong and indeed to him we shall return,” said the homepage of the English-language Saudi newspaper Arab News on Friday.
Bahrain, Jordan and the Palestinian territories, among others, declared days of mourning. The U.N. secretary-general praised Abdullah for his Arab Peace Initiative to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. And U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said he would lead a delegation “in the coming days” to pay respects.
“King Abdullah’s life spanned from before the birth of modern Saudi Arabia through its emergence as a critical force within the global economy and a leader among Arab and Islamic nations,” U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement.
In an address to the nation Friday morning — his first televised appearance since becoming king — Salman offered his condolences to the Saudi people.
“We will, with God’s will and power, adhere to the straight path this country followed since its establishment by King Abdulaziz and his sons after him, and will not deviate at all from it, since our constitution is the book of Allah (Quran) and the teachings of Prophet Mohammed,” he said.
He also spoke of the “desperate need” for unity and solidarity among the followers of Islam, saying Saudi Arabia would continue to promote that.
He has already issued six royal decrees Friday, the Saudi Press Agency reported, including appointing Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz as the deputy crown prince.
Salman, who has 1.33 million followers on Twitter but follows no one, has also changed his Twitter handle from @PrinceSalman to @KingSalman. [myad]