New Saudi king stresses continuity on oil, terrorism

New Saudi king stresses continuity on oil, terrorism

DUBAI - Even as Saudi Arabia faces a host of challenges, including falling crude oil prices and the rise of Islamic extremists, its newly enthroned king is expected to maintain policies pursued by his predecessor.

"We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment," King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud said in a televised speech Friday. He ascended to the throne following the death of King Abdullah earlier that day.

Salman was appointed governor of Riyadh province while in his 20s and contributed to the modernisation of the country's capital. He has many ties to key foreign figures and is said to be an advocate for gradual social reform.

Saudi Arabia is expecting a roughly US$40 billion (S$53.78 billion) budget deficit this year due to the plunge in crude oil prices. But Salman is expected to continue the kingdom's current policy of maintaining market share and is unlikely to cut production.

OPEC decided in November to keep up production levels, a policy the Saudi leadership reportedly supports. Crude prices gained temporarily after King Abdullah's death but have since remained steady.

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