The decrees issued by the Saudi Royal Court on Friday are among the most significant decisions to be witnessed by the people of Saudi Arabia since the start of the century. The announcements came at a turbulent time for the region and in an era when it is important for the Saudi royal family to clearly define its future course and line of succession before the people. Previously, two crown princes died before ever reaching the throne, after which a new system was created in 2014 to appoint a second-in-line to the throne, the Deputy Crown Prince.
Late King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz was great and popular. He is now succeeded by Salman Bin Abdulaziz, who was the former King’s shadow and partner. King Salman has a long history of high-level governance and has been one of the main pillars of the state for almost half a century.
Between announcing King Abdullah’s passing and declaring the new King, Saudi Arabia did not witness a minute of power vacuum—the people were not made to wait for answers to important questions. The announcement of King Salman’s ascension to the throne came immediately after the announcement of King Abdullah’s death. The Crown Prince and Deputy Crown Prince were promptly appointed on Friday morning. In doing so, the Kingdom was secured with a clear rule established for years to come. King Salman resolved all the outstanding questions about the future of the royal family and the Kingdom, safely transitioning Saudi Arabia to a new era.
It is not true what some think that being a monarch is a job that comes through inheritance. In fact, it is about competence, personality and capabilities. This was the secret of King Abdullah’s popularity, may he rest in peace, and this is the reason why Salman was chosen to be the seventh king of Saudi Arabia and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. We have known him for decades; Salman, of all the princes, had the most engagement with people, scholars, tribes, regional figures and civil society. He constantly visited those who were ill and shared in people’s joys and sorrows. He has undertaken these commitments for decades. The King has continually maintained close relations with Saudi society, while performing his daily responsibilities in managing state affairs.
People knew King Abdullah as a great, honest and firm person. The late monarch took difficult decisions; lobbying for the departure of US troops from Saudi Arabia at a time when people thought that their presence was necessary for the stability of the country. Then he looked east and opened political and trade relations with, China, India, and Russia. Domestically, he launched popular campaigns against Al-Qaeda and defeated it after persuading his citizens that fighting the terror group was the responsibility of both the people and the state. He led this campaign peacefully, while the rest of the region was falling into turmoil.
King Salman Bin Abdulaziz received pledges of allegiance from citizens yesterday, but he is already well-known on Arab and international stages. You can find him in images dating back to the sixties with late King Faisal. He was a former envoy and mediator, and was always at the side of King Khalid. He was King Fahd’s right-hand man, may God bless them all. King Salman is the most experienced Saudi King on both the domestic and international fronts.
And what matters to the average citizen is perhaps not international relations, but rather their present living conditions and the future of their children. With the new King’s call to pledge allegiance to Prince Muqrin as Crown Prince and the appointment of Prince Mohammed Bin Naif as Deputy Crown Prince, King Salman has sent a message that comforts Saudis and the younger generation. Nearly a century has passed since the Kingdom’s unification and Saudi Arabia today is standing strong, at a time when many neighboring kingdoms and countries are collapsing.
Stability has become an important word in the life of the people in the region; people want to see a robust, stable and continuous rule that is capable of development and progress. In our troubled region, the whole world needs to see stable countries with continues ruling systems that can assume their social responsibilities. Unfortunately, we no longer have many of these examples of governance in our region. May God bless the soul of the great father of the Saudi people, King Abdullah, and may God support King Salman in the great responsibility of leading Saudi Arabia.