Late Saudi King Abdullah buried in unmarked grave

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King Abdullah - Saudi Arabia - through the years
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Late Saudi King Abdullah buried in unmarked grave
In this Sunday Aug. 10, 2014 photo provided by Saudi Press Agency, Saudi's King Abdullah, left, presents Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, with a high medal, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. El-Sissi met late Sunday in Saudi Arabia with one of his strongest international supporters, King Abdullah, to talk about key security issues impacting the region. (AP Photo/Saudi Press Agency)
The funeral of Saudi King Abdullah takes place in Riyadh, following his death at the age of 90.
In this Monday, July 21, 2014 photo provided by the Moroccan Royal Palace, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, right and Morocco’s king Mohammed VI, left, pose at the Saudi monarch's palace of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The two Sovereigns also tackled regional and international issues of common interest such as the Israeli military action in Gaza. (AP Photo/ Azzouz Boukallouch, Moroccan Royal Palace)
King Abdullah and US Secretary of State John Kerry wait for a meeting at the King's private residence Friday, June 27, 2014 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Kerry signaled on Friday that the U.S. hopes to enlist moderate Syrian opposition fighters that the Obama administration has reluctantly decided to arm and train in the battle against militant extremists in neighboring Iraq. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
FILE - This June 27, 2014 file photo, shows Saudi King Abdullah listening to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speak before a meeting at the King's private residence in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The official Saudi Press Agency says King Abdullah has been admitted to a hospital for medical tests. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool, File)
In this Friday, June 20, 2014 photo provided by the Saudi Press Agency, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, inside the king's airplane while parked at the Cairo International Airport in Egypt. Abdullah arrived on a brief visit to Egypt on Friday, his first since the 2011 uprising, to show support for the newly elected President el-Sissi. Egypt state TV showed the king crouched over a cane, greeting Egyptian officials aboard his plane after a nearly hour-long meeting with el-Sissi. The king did not leave the airplane. (AP Photo/SPA)
In this Friday, June 20, 2014 photo provided by Egypt's state news agency MENA, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, left, speaks with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi inside an airplane at the Cairo International Airport in Egypt. Abdullah arrived on a brief visit to Egypt on Friday, his first since the 2011 uprising, to show support for the newly elected President el-Sissi. Egypt state TV showed the king crouched over a cane, greeting Egyptian officials aboard his plane after a nearly hour-long meeting with el-Sissi. The king did not leave the airplane. (AP Photo/MENA)
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, is greeted by Saudi Crown Prince Salman, center, the designated successor to King Abdullah, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel flew to Saudi Arabia Tuesday for meetings with leaders there at the outset of a week-long Middle East trip designed to reassure allies of the Obama administration's commitment to their defense. (AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool)
US President Barack Obama with Saudi King Abdullah at Rawdat Khuraim, Saudi Arabia, Friday, March 28, 2014. Rawdat Khuraim is a green oasis located 62 miles northwest of the capital city of Riyadh and King Abdullah's private desert encampment is located within Rawdat Khuraim. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
FILE - In this Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014 file photo, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah speaks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before their meeting in Rawdat Khurayim, a secluded royal hunting retreat in Saudi Arabia. The United Nations has received pleas to help free several Saudi Arabian princesses allegedly being held against their will in a royal compound, officials confirmed Wednesday. The allegations were submitted to the U.N. human rights office, claiming that several daughters of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had been held against their will for the past 13 years in the royal compound in Jeddah. .(AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool, File)
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has died after losing his battle with pneumonia The Saudi Royal Court reports.
In this Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013 photo, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, right, speaks with French President Francois Hollande, during their meeting at the Saudi Royal Palace, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Increasingly vocal in its frustration over United States policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year. (AP Photo/Kenzo Tribouillard, Pool)
In this Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013 photo, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, second left, speaks with French President Francois Hollande, right, after a meeting at the Saudi Royal Palace, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Increasingly vocal in its frustration over United States policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year. (AP Photo/Kenzo Tribouillard, Pool)
FILE-- In this Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012 file photo released by Saudi Press Agency, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, right, applauds French President Francois Hollande, left, after presenting him with the Order of Merit in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. Increasingly vocal in its frustration over the United States’ Mideast policies, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year. It may find a solution in France, whose president is ending 2013 with 24 hours of high-level meetings with the Saudi leadership in a visit intended to showcase commercial and diplomatic strength. (AP Photo/SPA, File)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, right, in Riyadh, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013. Seeking to bridge multiple policy rifts with Saudi Arabia, Kerry hailed the kingdom's role as "the senior player" in the Middle East on Monday. Speaking to employees at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh ahead of meetings with Saudi Arabia's king and foreign minister, Kerry said Saudi Arabia had assumed the Arab leadership mantle from Egypt, which is currently distracted by major domestic uncertainty. He said strengthening the U.S.-Saudi partnership is critical to Mideast security and stability and cementing tentative political transitions around the region. (AP Photo/Jason Reed, Pool)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009 file photo, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, left, awarded by Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, with the prestigious Order of Omayyad, the highest national medal in Syria, at al-Shaab Presidential pPalace in Damascus, Syria. In the eyes of many, Assad is a murderous autocrat who would do anything to cling to power. But for his supporters, he is a nationalist hero fighting Western imperialism, a stabilizing presence who ensures a secular rule in a turbulent region wracked by sectarian wars. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)
FILE - In this March 28, 2014 file photo, U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Saudi King Abdullah about a coalition to tackle the extremist Islamic State group, at Rawdat Khuraim, Saudi Arabia. U.S. Arab allies Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are discussing creation of a military pact to take on Islamic militants, with the possibility of a joint force to intervene around the Middle East, The Associated Press has learned in Nov. 2014. Even if no joint force is agreed on, the alliance would coordinate military action, aiming at quick, pinpoint operations against militants rather than longer missions, officials said. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has passed away at the age of 90, after spending several weeks in the hospital.
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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- Saudi Arabia's newly enthroned King Salman moved quickly Friday to name a future successor to the crown in his oil-rich kingdom, a significant appointment that puts the kingdom's future squarely in the hands of a new generation.

King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud's actions came as the Sunni-ruled kingdom mourned King Abdullah, who died early Friday at the age of 90 after nearly two decades in power.

He was buried Friday afternoon in an unmarked grave, his body shrouded in a simple beige cloth without a coffin. The austere, subdued burial was in line with Islamic tradition that all people - even kings - are equal in death before God.

A royal decree affirmed Crown Prince Muqrin, 69, as Salman's immediate successor. After Muqrin, Salman named Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, 55, as deputy crown prince, making him second-in-line to the throne. Mohammed is the first grandson of Saudi Arabia's founder, King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, to be named as a future heir.

King Salman promised in a nationally televised speech to continue the policies of his predecessors.

"We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment," Salman said.

For more than six decades, power has passed among the sons of King Abdul-Aziz, from brother to brother, since his death in 1953. But ranks of that generation, largely in their 70s and 80s, are thinning.

The decision to name Mohammed as deputy crown prince helps alleviate uncertainty over which of Abdul-Aziz's hundreds of grandsons would ascend to the throne. It also highlighted the Al Saud family's ability to coalesce around thorny issues of succession to ultimately preserve the stability of their rule.

Salman on Friday also appointed his son, Prince Mohammed, as Defense Minister. The prince, in his 30s, was head of his father's royal court when Salman was crown prince and is among his most-favored sons.

In his first speech as king, Salman also made an oblique reference to the chaos gripping the greater Middle East as the extremist Islamic State group now holds a third of both Iraq and Syria.

"The Arab and the Islamic nations are in dire need of solidarity and cohesion," the king said.

Salman, 79, had increasingly taken on the duties of the king over the past year as his ailing predecessor and half brother, Abdullah, became more incapacitated. Abdullah officially ascended to the throne in 2005, but had been de-facto ruler for years before that.

State television aired images of the prayer ahead of his burial in Riyad's al-Oud cemetery in an area reserved for royals. Hundreds gathered outside the cemetery, which was guarded by security officials. One billboard in the capital with Abdullah's image said: "To God we belong and to God we shall return."

Leaders from around the world expressed their condolences for King Abdullah.

U.S. President Barack Obama described the late Saudi king as a candid leader who had the courage of his convictions, including "his steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond."

The president of the neighboring United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said in a statement that Abdullah "generously gave a lot to his people and his nation," while Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said "the Saudi kingdom and the Arab nation have lost a leader of its best sons."

Salman served as defense minister since 2011. That made him the head of the military as Saudi Arabia joined the United States and other Arab countries in carrying out airstrikes in Syria in 2014 against the Islamic State group, the Sunni militant group that the kingdom began to see as a threat to its own stability.

Salman takes the helm at a time when the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom and oil powerhouse is trying to navigate social pressures from a burgeoning youth population - over half the population of 20 million is under 25 - seeking jobs and increasingly testing boundaries of speech on the Internet, where criticism of the royal family is rife.

The new king, in a departure from past monarchs, used his Twitter account to send a message to his 1.3 million followers.

"I ask God to ensure my success to serve our dear people and realize their hopes, and to preserve our nation and society's security and stability, and to protect it from all evil," the message read.

The country is also facing plunging global oil prices, which forms the backbone of its economy.

Salman's health has been a question of concern. He suffered at least one stroke that has left him with limited movement on his left arm.

Salman is among the so-called "Sudeiri Seven" - seven sons born to one of Abdul-Aziz's most favored wives, Hussa bint Ahmad Sudeiri. The seven brothers were seen as a center of power within the family. Abdullah's predecessor, King Fahd, was among the seven, as were Abdullah's first two crown princes, Sultan and Nayef, who died in 2011 and 2012 respectively before reaching the throne.

Prince Mohammed is the son of Salman's brother Nayef. Like his father, Nayef, who was a formidable power in Saudi Arabia until his death in 2012, Mohammed is head of the powerful Interior Ministry that oversees the country's police. Mohammed was the target of a botched assassination attempt by al-Qaida militants in 2009.

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Batrawy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Maamoun Youssef and Jon Gambrell in Cairo, and Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

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