Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
After the 1953 death of Abdulaziz ibn Saud, Saudi Arabia has only seen successions of brothers to the throne.Reuters

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia passed away on Thursday, leaving behind a country that has seen only brothers getting to the throne in the past 60 years.

Abdullah is succeeded by his 79-year-old brother crown prince Salman al-Saud.

Abdullah became Saudi Arabia's king in 2005, though he has been the de facto ruler since mid-1990s.

The death of the Saudi ruler is important to the world and is being closely watched, because the Middle-Eastern country is the largest exporter of oil and the policies surrounding the rise and fall in oil prices is directly proportional to what priority the ruler gives to the industry.

The death of Abdullah also raises question on a possible generational shift in throne.

After the 1953 death of Abdulaziz bin Saud, Saudi Arabia has only seen succession of brothers to the throne with the monarchy being passed invariably to the next brother in line so long as they had the ability and inclination to rule.

Abdullah's successor Salman and the next-in-line Muqrin are almost 80 and 70, respectively. The country has also been through periods of tragedies, as it lost two crown princes, Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saudto, to old age since 2011.

Salman ascends to the throne by virtue of the 'allegiance council' established by King Abdullah in 2006 – an incident that gave birth to a never-before position of the "deputy crown prince".

When the council was established, Murqrin bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who was 68 then, was widely expected to be the next king in case Salman chooses to pass on the throne. The council was made up of the king's brothers and nephews deciding collaboratively on succession.

The current situation raises doubts whether the system in place will ensure smooth transition of power in future.

Some analysts are optimistic about it. "Prince Salman will succeed the monarch and will, in turn, designate Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, as his own heir. Soon thereafter, the allegiance council will confirm these appointments and there will be no succession crisis," Joseph Kechichian, a Gulf News columnist said, as noted by Al Jazeera.

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