Crown prince named to replace one of Gulf kingdom’s most important figures, who was prime minister for half a century
[Manama] The Bahraini prime minister, His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, died on Wednesday at the age of 84 while undergoing unspecified medical treatment at the Mayo Clinic in the United States.
The king of Bahrain, His Royal Highness Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, mourned his uncle by ordering the kingdom’s flags lowered to half-staff. He also appointed his son, His Royal Highness Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the new prime minister. HRH Salman bin Hamad has been crown prince since 1999.
HRH Khalifa bin Salman suffered from numerous health problems. The most prominent was a September 2019 stroke, for which he was transferred to Germany for treatment. He returned only on March 20.
The last cabinet session he presided over was on July 20. He left for the US on August 15 for further treatment.
The late prime minister was considered one of the greatest contributors to the rise of modern Bahrain after it declared independence from Britain in 1971. His death comes as the kingdom enters a major phase of change with the normalization of relations with Israel.
He managed to congratulate US President-elect Joe Biden on the day it became clear he had enough electoral votes to become president of the United States.
HRH Khalifa bin Salman was prime minister for half a century. He is seen as the person who established Bahrain’s system of governance and was behind some of the kingdom’s greatest economic and political achievements.
He established the Ministry of Housing and also took on the task of leading the country’s Oil and Economic Policy Council, determining export policies. He is also credited with having reformed the kingdom’s Central Bank.
Experts attribute to him the existence of more than 50 branches of international banks in Bahrain, in addition to his having attracted more than 5 billion Bahraini dinars ($13 billion) in investments before responsibility for this sphere was transferred to the crown prince in 2006.
HRH Khalifa bin Salman was born on November 24, 1935, the second son of His Royal Highness Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who in 1942 became hakim, or leader, of Bahrain, and his second wife, Her Royal Highness Mouza bint Hamad Al Khalifa.
The late prime minister requested military assistance from Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in 2011 during the so-called Arab Spring. Saudi forces are seen as having played a major role in thwarting a coup attempt backed by Iran.
Bahrainis called him “The Supporter,” as he blocked many ministerial decisions that were considered unpopular by the street. He maintained strong relations with Asia, especially Thailand.
Bahraini Parliament Speaker Fawzia Zainal told The Media Line that HRH Khalifa bin Salman’s record will be “a model to be emulated, an approach to be followed and a luminous course for current and future generations in giving and giving.”
A model to be emulated, an approach to be followed and a luminous course for current and future generations in giving and giving