The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has bidden farewell to King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, may he rest in peace. He was a King who was beloved by his people, and who reciprocated that love and appreciation to Saudi Arabia and its people.
Saudi Arabia saw a quick and smooth transfer of rule, with King Salman Bin Abdulaziz taking over the reins of power, demonstrating the Kingdom’s durability and resilience, across the ruling House to the apparatus of the state.
For now, let’s talk about the dearly departed King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, may he rest in peace. I was honored to accompany him on every royal visit that he led as King while serving as editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, along with other Arab editors. I will never forget one Arab minister asking me: “Why does King Abdullah treat editors-in-chief as if they are an official delegation?”
But this story is not about how he treated journalists, or editors-in-chief, but about a King who led his country to safety through the most difficult political and economic conditions, and who positively affected every Saudi home and family, particularly via his educational scholarship programs. This is something that explains the Saudi people’s love for him, and particularly the love felt in the hearts of our young people.
King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, may he rest in peace, did not just lead Saudi Arabia to safety and security, but he was a King for all Arabs thanks to his firm stances, clear vision and transparency: King Abdullah was a true global leader.
He ascended to the throne following the treacherous 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US, which were followed by a second wave of terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia itself, which were particularly threatening. Despite all this, the dearly departed King stood strong against this blight.
He led reform and development in the Kingdom, and a general opening up of the country, granting women greater rights. King Abdullah also put forward the most important vision for peace in the region, including the Arab Peace Initiative, which continues to guide the Palestinian Cause today.
At the peak of the global financial crisis, he led Saudi Arabia’s inclusion into the G20 group of major economies. King Abdullah was at the helm of a true economic renaissance in the Kingdom.
More than this, King Abdullah established the Allegiance Council, which sets the vision for the political future of Saudi Arabia.
The dearly departed King was also the first to warn against the threat posed by Iran, as well as the fragmentation and division of Arab states, before this was dubbed the “Arab Spring.”
King Abdullah forced Bashar Al-Assad to withdraw from Lebanon following the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, protecting Syria at the time from becoming embroiled in a military conflict. He later returned to champion the Syrian people following Assad’s criminal rule.
He was also one of the first leaders to warn against the threats of political Islam and Islamic extremism. He took a firm stand in response to the Arab Spring, with his only concern being the protection of the Arab world.
He safeguarded Bahrain from political instability, taking a firm position. As for Egypt, he took an honorable and principled stand, utilizing all of the Kingdom’s capabilities to rescue Egypt, despite the West’s position on the issue.
For all these reasons and more, our dearly departed King Abdullah was not just beloved by the Saudi people, but by all Arabs and Muslims. He led Saudi Arabia to new heights, preserved the unity of the Gulf, protected and safeguarded Arab states, most prominently Egypt, and defended the blood of the Syrian people. He led Saudi Arabia to the strongest position that it has ever found itself in.
He was the king of real decisions, may he rest in peace.