In just one week, from one Friday to the next, the Saudi leadership, led by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, conducted a lesson in governance, politics, and the principles of brotherhood between family members.
During the past week – and what a week it was! – Riyadh said goodbye to a beloved prince, a pillar of the Saudi government, Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, may God have mercy on him, and welcomed his successor, his brother and another pillar of Saudi Arabia, Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz. This all took place under the supervision of the King himself, and in a highly transparent manner in front of the eyes of the people of Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah activated the Allegiance Council – which is something that he did not have to do – to choose new Crown Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz. All of this took place during the official hajj season, a time where there are more than a million hajj pilgrims visiting the country. However this did not affect the running of the country or cause Saudi citizens to feel any concern whatsoever, particularly as the sons of the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz, may God have mercy on him, and the country’s officials, were all in the capital, Riyadh, under one roof, bidding farewell to Prince Sultan and placing his body in its final resting place! This was the situation in Saudi Arabia over the past week, for anyone interested in viewing the whole picture, and understanding all the dimensions [of what happened].
This is not all, for King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz gave a lesson in governance, and the meaning of brotherhood. How could this not be the case when he left hospital immediately following back surgery to be among the first to welcome the body of Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz back to Saudi Arabia at the [Riyadh] airport? This is an image that touched the heart of all Saudi Arabians, as they saw the true meaning of this death, namely the grief felt on the death of one’s brother! Even Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz himself said – in an interview with Saudi TV – that he asked King Abdullah not to travel to the airport out of fear for his health, however the Saudi King insisted on leading the delegation that met the body of his brother, Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, may God have mercy on him. Whilst the funeral, and prior to this the funeral prayers, is also an image that is hard to forget, and something that touched the hearts of all the people of Saudi Arabia, regardless of background. On that day, the people of Saudi Arabia were touched by seeing Prince Naif and Prince Salman carrying the coffin of their brother. All of these images were a spontaneous, but important, political messages, revealing the make-up of the Saudi state, and the kinship of its leaders.
Therefore, what happened in Saudi Arabia over the past week, was a lesson in every sense of the word, particularly to those who are contemplating the situation in the region around us and all the political earthquakes, aftershocks, and divisions that have affected it. This is a lesson not just to our Arab states, but even to certain regional states who are embroiled in public and secret political conflict. This last week also represents a lesson to rumor-mongers, whether in the traditional media or the new media; and a guarantee that the stability of Saudi Arabia, anchored in the midst of this tempestuous sea, is not in any doubt. There is clear [political] transparency in Saudi Arabia on the level of the leadership, particularly with regards to King Abdullah who activated the Allegiance Council. Whilst the components of the Saudi state are strong and stable, as is the unity of this country which one Saudi prince once told me is a country that was ”built, and not inherited!”