By Ahmed Aljabr
Some Americans are old enough to remember where they were when President Kennedy was shot, when Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were shot, or where they were when Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon. Younger Americans may recall when John Lennon was killed, or when they heard that Nelson Mandela had passed away.
For Saudi Arabians, we will never forget where we were the day our beloved King died. King Abdullah Al-Saud passed away at age 90 on Jan. 22, 2015. A father figure for his nation, this benevolent king was known as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
His legacy was one of education, moving the kingdom from seven higher education institutions to more than 40. Another amazing feat was sending 200,000 Saudi students abroad – 100,000 to the U.S. alone – to further their knowledge, education, and overall readiness for the growing opportunities in Saudi Arabia.
King Abdullah followed King Fahad, his brother, to the throne. King Fahad’s legacy was a political one, carving the face of Saudi Arabia’s influence on the Middle East and on the world’s economy.
The newly installed King Salman, another brother of King Abdullah, is making his name by ushering in the 21st century with new technology and by recruiting young professionals for positions of influence once reserved for elders only.
King Abdullah was a wise man, a tough adversary, and a friend to the U.S. and the Middle East. He will be missed on the world stage, but the truer testament of his reign is the loss that is deeply felt by his loyal subjects.