Monday, August 1, 2005
Saudi Arabia's King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, died early Monday, the Saudi royal court said.
Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz
, the king's half brother and Saudi Arabia's de factor ruler, was appointed the country's new monarch. Defence Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, who is next in line to the throne after Abdullah, was named crown prince, state television announced. Members of the royal family have already pledged allegiance to Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. An official ceremony confirming him as the new king is due to be held on Wednesday.
Funeral prayers will be held Tuesday at Riyadh's Turk bin Abdullah mosque.
"With all sorrow and sadness, the royal court in the name of his highness Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and all members of the family announces the death of the custodian of the two holy mosques, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz," according to a statement read on state-run Saudi TV by the country's information minister.
Saudi TV broke with regular broadcasting to announce King Fahd's death. Quranic verse recitals followed the announcement by the minister, Iyad bin Amin Madani, whose voice wavered with emotion as he read the statement.
The news of King Fahd's death sent oil prices higher, with September-dated light sweet crude oil futures rising to $61.07 a barrel, up 50 cents. Futures hit as high as $61.23 a barrel on the news. (1 US Barrel = 42 US Gallons = 158.9873 litres)
King Fahd died at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, where he was admitted on May 27, 2005 when he was suffering from pneumonia and a high fever.
King Fahd's debilitating stroke in 1995 confined him mainly to a figurehead role in the kingdom. Crown Prince Abdullah has been Saudi Arabia's de facto leader since then and has led the country's battle against Islamic extremism and terrorism.
Fahd (born in Riyadh in 1923) was a son of Ibn Saud, the first monarch and founder of modern Saudi Arabia; and was proclaimed the fifth king of Saudi Arabia on June 13, 1982.
Fahd's education took place at the Princes' School in Riyadh, a school established by Ibn Saud specifically for the education of members of the House of Saud. Following his education at the Princes' School, Fahd moved on to the Religious Knowledge Institute in Mecca, where he studied Wahhabi Islam.
In 1945 Fahd travelled on his first state visit to New York to attend the opening session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. On this trip Fahd served under his brother, future King Faisal who was at that time Saudi Arabia's foreign minister.
In 1953, Fahd was appointed Education Minister by his father. Also in 1953, Fahd led his first official state visit, attending the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on behalf of the House of Saud. Later Fahd lead the Saudi delegation to the League of Arab States in 1959, signifying his growing relevance and importance in the House of Saud - and his being groomed for more significant power. Finally, in 1962, Fahd was given a post of prodigious responsibility: that of Interior Minister. Five years later Fahd was appointed Second Deputy Prime Minister, a significant post in the House of Saud.
On March 25, 1975, King Faisal was assasinated by his nephew and King Khalid assumed power.
Fahd, as next in the line of succession, become Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister. Especially in the later years of King Khalid's reign, Fahd was viewed as the de facto prime minister.
When King Khalid passed away on June 13, 1982 Fahd succeeded to the throne.
King Fahd was the oldest of the "Sudairi Seven", the seven sons of King Abdul Aziz "ibn Saud" by Hassa bint Ahmad Sudairi who have been close to one another all their lives.
Among his full brothers, Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz (born 1927) has been Minister of Defense since 1962 and Second Deputy Prime Minister since 1982, and now the Crown Prince. Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, is the Interior Minister since 1975, and Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, is the Governor of Riyadh.
Earlier in his rule, King Fahd was credited with turning Saudi Arabia into one of the Middle East's most modern states despite tribal traditions and Islamic fundamentalists' fears that modernization would dilute Muslims' faith. King Fahd has also given money for building mosques throughout the world.