Ever since the news broke of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia’s demise, I’ve been practically inconsolable. I write this through a veil of tears and motivated only by the urge to celebrate the life of a bold reformer and profoundly influential humanist.
We often take our liberties for granted in the West. This is much more difficult in the Middle East, where freedom is scarce and thus elevated to its correct value. That is why Abdullah’s heroic reforms will stand out in the history textbooks, ultimately placing his name beside that of Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle.
Abdullah, though of noble birth, never needed to go into politics. He had (up unto his death) the looks of a movie star. In the Saudi national press, it was a running joke to call the King ‘Abdullah Cruise’ owing his undeniable resemblance to the Hollywood actor, Tom Cruise.
For this reason, the Women of the world have surely been the hardest hit by last week’s passing. In Paris, Carla Bruni could hardly hold back the emotion as she addressed a grieving (predominantly female) crowd in front of the Tour de Eiffel. “When I read the works of Nietzsche” she sobbed… “and come across the word Ubermensch, I can never fail to picture him. He was born with capabilities far beyond the average person. We will never see his kind again.”
As the press duly noted, this was a particularly poignant moment for the former First Lady. In the 1990s, Bruni and Abdullah were briefly an item after the King had charmed the Italian with his world-renowned love poetry.
Outside of politics, King Abdullah broke many world records, memorably stripping Usain Bolt of the title ‘World’s Fastest Man’, after running the 100m metre dash in less than 2.5 seconds. His music vastly outsold his contemporaries and will now live on to further gild his grave. Billboard have today reported a surge in sales of his debut album ‘Just an ordinary kinda guy’, his masterpiece ‘OK Medina’ as well as his most recent collection of Christmas classics ‘Under the Mistletoe with King Abdullah’.
In time, attention will inevitably turn to the King’s inheritor, Salman, a man of many talents, but one whose reign seems destined to be outshadowed by the gargantuan legacy of his predecessor.