Saudi King 'Abdullah' dies; half-brother Salman is the new monarch

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King of Saudi Arabia 'Abdullah bin Abdulaziz' has breathed his last at 90 leaving the reins of the influential kingdom to his half-brother Salman.

Saudi Arabia is the most influential Muslim country in the world not only due to its rich oil reserve but also because of being home to Mecca and Medina - Islam's holiest sites.

The departed king was informally ruling the kingdom since 1996 - much before his formal coronation in 2005 - after a debilitating stroke turned the then King Fahd incapable of running Saudi Arabia since 1996.

Being the birthplace of Islam, biggest oil exporter, producer, and second largest hydrocarbon reserve in the world, make the kingdom an indispensable ally for geopolitical-cum-energy security and stability on the planet.

King Abdullah

  • He is credited as a cautious reformer and pushed some reforms through the ultra conservative muslim society such as: giving women the right to vote and to compete in the Olympics.
  • As one of the closest ally of the US, the Gulf-country has managed to keep the Islamic extremism at bay while acting as a calming influence over the anti-western Muslim society at large.
  • Abdullah, like Fahd, was one of the many sons of Ibn Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia.

Moreover

  • Saudi Arabia, in its present form, was founded by the Ibn Saud in 1932 - father of both the kings - present (Salman) and departed (Abdullah).
  • His family has been ruling the state ever since.
  • The new King Salman has served as the crown prince and defence minister of the state since 2012.
  • The 79-year old leader is considered to possess the temperament similar to Abdulaziz and is likely to follow similar path as his predecessor.
  • Muqrin - half-brother of the incoming ruler - will be the new crown prince and heir to the throne.
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