News and Views

Saudi mourns its dead king: Thousands take to streets after King Abdullah dies aged 90 following battle with pneumonia – as 79-year-old brother inherits the throne

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  • King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz died last night after a battle with pneumonia
  • He took power in 2005 after the death of his half-brother King Fahd  
  • Half-brother Salman, 79, a reputed moderate, has inherited the throne 
  • Thousands gathered in Mecca today to mourn just hours after King’s death
  • His funeral will be held later today in keeping with Muslim traditions 
  • Death of late king makes Queen Elizabeth II world’s oldest monarch

Saudi Arabia is today mourning the death of King Abdullah, with thousands gathering in Mecca to pay their respects.

Pictures from the oil-rich nation’s state television showed throngs of mourners making their way to the holy site just hours after the monarch’s death was announced.

The royal had been in hospital since December, battling pneumonia, and his half-brother Salman, 79, has become king.

Abdullah, who died aged 90, will be laid to rest at a funeral later today following Muslim tradition that a burial should take place within 24 hours of death.

Abdullah’s death was confirmed on state television yesterday with channels cutting to Koranic verses – only used following the death of a senior royal.

The Prime Minister has paid tribute to his work for peace in the region.

David Cameron, who visited Saudi Arabia in 2012, said: ‘I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abd Al Aziz Al Saud.

‘He will be remembered for his long years of service to the Kingdom, for his commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.

‘My thoughts and prayers are with the Saudi Royal Family and the people of the Kingdom at this sad time.

‘I sincerely hope that the long and deep ties between our two Kingdoms will continue and that we can continue to work together to strengthen peace and prosperity in the world.’

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