Saudi King Fahd dead
(CNN) — Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd — whose reign was marked by unprecedented prosperity, but whose close ties with the United States stirred the passions of Islamic militants — has died, Saudi Arabia’s information minister announced Monday.
His exact age remains uncertain — believed to be between 82 and 84.
A source told CNN’s Nic Robertson that Fahd died Sunday evening. His burial is scheduled for Tuesday at 3 p.m. (8 a.m. EDT) in Riyadh.
The former Crown Prince Abdullah, Fahd’s half brother, has been named the new Saudi king and Defense Minister Prince Sultan has replaced Abdullah as crown prince.
"King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz has chosen Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz as Crown prince in accordance with Article 5 of the basic system of government," a statement from the Saudi royal court said.
"Allegiance will be paid by the public to King Abdullah and Prince Sultan after the noon prayers on Wednesday."
The Saudi monarch had been in and out of the hospital in recent months, most recently suffering from pneumonia-like symptoms. Fahd yielded day-to-day control of the kingdom a decade ago after suffering a stroke, with Abdullah serving as the de facto ruler since then.
Fahd assumed the throne on June 13, 1982, becoming the fifth king of Saudi Arabia. He was the son of King Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Saud, the founder of the modern Saudi Arabia.
"I will be father to the young, brother to the elderly," he once said. "I am but one of you; whatever troubles you, troubles me; whatever pleases you, pleases me."
The Saudi monarch was held in high esteem across the Arab and Muslim worlds because of his role as the custodian of the two holy mosques — the major shrines of Islam in Mecca and Medina.
As king, he supervised projects to facilitate the hajj for the more than 2 million pilgrims from around the world who visit each year. Under his rule, Mecca was expanded to 3.5 million square feet to accommodate 1 million worshippers; Medina has grown to nearly 1.8 million square feet to accommodate 500,000 people, according to his official biography.
But it was Fahd’s decision to allow U.S. forces to be based out of Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq that outraged Islamic fundamentalists, including bin Laden who criticized his homeland for allowing "infidels" to attack another Arab country from its soil.
During Fahd’s tenure, the kingdom saw an economic, agricultural and educational transformation, building on its oil wealth to become an international and regional power.