International

London’s Saudi Arabian community mourns death and funeral of their King

Saudi Arabian Embassy media statement.

Statement from the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London on the death of King Abdullah. Image: Saudi Arabian Embassy

London’s Saudi Arabian community has been mourning the death and funeral of King Abdullah.

UK union flags have been flying at half mast in Westminster as a mark of respect.

Embed from Getty Images

The king held the throne for 9 and a half years, had been suffering from pneumonia, and passed away at the age of 90.

He had succeeded to the throne upon the death of his half brother.

HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud, Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the UK said:

King Abdullah was an extraordinary man, a leader who will be remembered by history for his dynamic role in strengthening and developing our nation, in bringing together people of all faiths, in searching for peaceful solutions to world conflicts and striving for regional stability.

Saudi Arabian Embassy Home Page. Image: http://embassies.mofa.gov.sa/sites/uk/EN/Pages/default.aspx

Saudi Arabian Embassy Home Page. Image: http://embassies.mofa.gov.sa/sites/uk/EN/Pages/default.aspx

A book of condolences has been opened at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, in Curzon Street, London between 14.00 and 17.00 hours, and on Monday and Tuesday 26 and 27 January, 2015 between 11.00 and 15.00 hours.

The monarch’s reign had often been described as highly contentious.

Amnesty International has criticized what it sees as gross human rights violations in an authoritarian theocracy ruled by clerics and one royal family.

The recent decision to punish blogger Raif Badawi triggered international outrage.

Supporters of the late monarch described him as an economic reformer and praised him for transforming five Saudi cities into economic powerhouses.

They also argued that he was reformer for improved women’s rights such as granting women the right to vote.

The US and UK governments have long regarded Saudi Arabia as a key ally and stabiliser in the Middle East.

Both countries view Saudi Arabia as a big defence market, with the UK securing a deal to sell 72 fighter jets earlier last year.

Saudi Arabia has played a leading role in the US-led airstrike coalition against ISIS and in applying pressure on Iran to curb its uranium enrichment programme.

It’s also respected as a power and conflict resolution broker in the region.

Despite this, some scholars have accused Saudi nationals of privately financing ISIS in an attempt to spread Wahhabism in the Iraqi region.

Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute:

He will be remembered for his long years of service to the Kingdom, for his commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.

Many Saudis travel to London during their scorching hot summer, and contribute millions per year to the London economy.

In 2012 £78 million was spent and just under £1 billion in 2014.

Embed from Getty Images

Many of London’s Sunni mosques, including in Finsbury Park, were constructed because of Saudi government funding.

King Abdullah’s half brother Salman has been appointed as the new king.

The King has been buried within 24 hours of his death according to the custom of Islam in Riyadh, and the Saudi Arabian Embassy today has declared:

May God grant the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah, His great mercy and forgiveness, and allow him to reside in His wide heaven.

May his soul rest in peace.

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