King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has passed away after a short illness at the age of 90. His death brings to an end the rule of one of the world’s oldest monarchs. A statement released early on Friday by the Royal Court confirmed that his 79-year-old half-brother, Crown Prince Salman, had now become king.
Abdullah was crowned king of Saudi Arabia in 2005, but had ruled the country as crown prince long before succeeding to the throne after his elder brother King Fahd suffered a stroke in 1995.
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King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has passed away at the age of 90
The late monarch had battled ill health for some time, and was taken to hospital on 31 December, suffering from pneumonia. He is to be buried on Friday afternoon.
Abdullah's half-brother Muqrin has been named as the new crown prince. All three men are sons of the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz, usually referred to as Ibn Saud, who passed away in 1953.
During his rule, King Abdullah pushed for a more open society within Saudi Arabia's strong traditions, including a greater freedom and education for women.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia pictured with Prince Charles in 2006
UK Prime Minister David Cameron was among those paying their respects to the late monarch, who he said would be remembered for his "commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths".
US President Barack Obama shared his personal sympathies. "As a leader, he was always candid and had the courage of his convictions," he said. "One of those conviction 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."