Commodore, Royal Saudi
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman ascended to the throne on Jan. 23. His assignment came in smooth transition following the demise of King Abdullah. King Salman is not new to world. He is recognized as a seasoned and respected politician. People well-versed with the political history of Saudi Arabia know fully well that King Salman had been active since the 1960s. He could be seen in the photographs with King Faisal and remained a confidante of King Khalid. During the reign of King Fahd, he was assigned several important responsibilities. King Salman is undoubtedly a very familiar face in the world of international and regional politics. While late King Abdullah will be dearly missed, it is heartening to see King Salman as the 7th Saudi king. King Salman will continue to lead the Kingdom on the road to progress and reforms as envisioned by late King Abdullah. As mentioned above, King Salman’s leadership skills had become obvious at the very initial stages of his career. He remained the emir of Riyadh region for decades and personally supervised the transformation of the capital city from a modest town to a world-class metropolis. The smooth transition of power has once again put western speculations to rest. This writer always feels amazed at Western fixation with the succession process of Saudi Arabia. Western analysts actually tend to ignore the social and historical aspects of Saudi Arabia making it difficult for them to understand the process correctly. The Saudi royal family has been a part of local society for hundreds of years and every tribe and every family in the Kingdom has made direct contributions to the establishment of Saudi Arabia. And it is still common for many Saudis to hear their grandparents’ stories of their own fathers and grandfathers having direct contact with members of the Al-Saud family many years before the establishment of modern Saudi Arabia. The Al-Saud royal family enjoys a continued and strong popularity that only Saudis can truly understand. The Al-Saud presence in Arabia did not come out of the blue nor did the family ascend to the thrown through a sudden military coup. It was Al-Saud family members and common Saudis who worked hand-in-hand until the day King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman founded modern day Saudi Arabia in 1932. And it is very important that the western press know that the Saudi royal succession is one of the smoothest and most transparent transitions in the world. For us Saudis, as long as it is a Saudi royal family member at the helm, we get a good night’s sleep. We’ll let others worry about analysis. For the past 60 years, some of the western media pundits have been talking about Saudi Arabia’s stability as if we were in a civil war. The doors of the king, crown prince and all the Saudi provinces’ governors are open to all Saudis and we have never felt that there is a contact gap between the ruler and the ruled. Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Another Smooth Transition reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.