King Salman vowed on Friday to continue with policies meant to solidify and strengthen the Kingdom as he ascended the throne following the death of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
Salman takes over as the ultimate authority amid global and domestic challenges compounded by the plunging price of oil in recent months and the rise of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria.
In his first speech as king, shown live on Saudi television, he pledged to maintain the same approach to ruling the world’s top oil exporter and birthplace of Islam as his predecessors and called for unity among Arab states.
“We will continue, God willing, to hold the straight course that this country has followed since its establishment by the late King Abdulaziz,” he said.
The new king said the Kingdom “is in dire need today to be united and maintain solidarity” at a time of turmoil in many parts of the world.
“I ask God to assist me to serve our dear people and realize their hopes, and to preserve our country and our nation’s security and stability, and to protect them from all evils, for He is the master and able to do that. There’s no strength except with God,” he added.
On King Abdullah’s death, which was announced by the royal court at past midnight last night,
King Salman prayed that God “bestow his soul in mercy and to admit him in his vast paradise and to reward him the best best reward for the outstanding work in the service of his religion and homeland and nation.”
With Salman’s ascension of the throne, then Deputy Crown Prince Muqrin has become the crown prince and deputy prime minister, while Interior Minister Mohammed bin Naif is the new deputy crown prince and second deputy prime minister.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the new defense minister and head of the royal court, the Saudi Press Agency said.
Prince Mohammed bin Naif becomes the first grandson of the kingdom’s founding ruler, King Abdulaziz, known as Ibn Saud, to take an established place in the line of succession.
All Saudi kings since King Abdulaziz’s death in 1953 have been his sons.
King Abdullah’s legacy has been described as an effort to overhaul the kingdom’s economic and social systems to address a looming demographic crisis by creating private sector jobs and making young Saudis better prepared to take them.
“I think (Salman) will continue with Abdullah’s reforms. He realizes the importance of this. He’s not conservative in person, but he values the opinion of the conservative constituency of the country,” said Jamal Khashoggi, general manager and editor-in-chief of Al Arab News Channel.