Riyadh, Jan 23:
Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz died of complications from pneumonia early Friday and was succeeded by his half-brother Salman, the Saudi Arabian royal household said in a statement. He was 90.
“With great sorrow and grief, 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,” Xinhua quoted the Saudi royal court as saying.
Abdullah, born in 1924, was hospitalised in December with pneumonia and had been breathing with external aid. The royal court had announced Jan 2 that he was on a temporary ventilator for a respiratory infection.
Funeral prayers will be held later in the day following afternoon prayers at the Imam Turki Bin Abdullah grand mosque in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Former crown prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud received the pledge of allegiance as the country’s king from members of the royal family. After that, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz received the pledge of allegiance as the new crown prince.
Both King Salman and Crown Prince Muqrin will receive pledges of allegiance from citizens Friday evening.
The news of Abdullah’s death spurred oil prices in main trading markets around the world, which lost more than half their value since June 2014, when they were sitting at more than $100 a barrel.
The US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for March delivery soared as much as 3.1 percent in New York, while Brent crude for March jumped $1.09, or 2.25 percent, to $49.61.
Selected as crown prince in 1982, Abdullah was responsible for the day-to-day running of the country after former King Fahd suffered a stroke in 1995.
He was seen as the main force behind the unprecedented reforms in the country, including new professional career choices for women.
The new king, Salman was appointed as crown prince in 2012 after the death of Saudi Arabia’s then heir apparent and interior minister prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. He also served as deputy premier and defense minister.
Abdullah, Salman and Muqrin are sons of the Saudi kingdom’s founding monarch, Abdulaziz, more commonly known as Ibn Saud, who died in 1953. IANS