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Dignitaries visit after King Abdullah's death

Published:Sunday | January 25, 2015 | 12:00 AM


World leaders and top dignitaries began arriving in Saudi Arabia yesterday to give their condolences following the death of King Abdullah, who died early last Friday at age 90 after nearly two decades at the helm.

Despite deep tensions and rivalries between the nations, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was among the first to arrive to the Sunni-ruled kingdom yesterday, where he was greeted at the airport by the late king's son, Prince Turki, who is governor of Riyadh.

Expected visitors

The newly enthroned King Salman is also expected to receive in the coming days United States President Barack Obama, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito.

The king, who ascended to the throne in 2005 but who had been de-facto ruler for a decade before that, was buried last Friday afternoon in an unmarked grave after a prayer service in the capital Riyadh.

In line with the Wahhabi interpretation of Islamic tradition observed in the kingdom, he was buried in an unadorned, beige cloth without a coffin in an unmarked grave. There was no memorial service.

Heads of state and royals from around world will instead be visiting Saudi Arabia over the coming days to pay their respects in meetings with Saudi royals.