CAIRO – A Bahraini royal mourned him publicly, young Lebanese held a candlelight tribute, Egyptian musicians hailed him as an inspiration.
Beyond his global reach, Michael Jackson held a special place in the Muslim world, as one of the first major Western entertainers to break through cultural barriers in the 1980s.
Some made a connection with the pop icon because of rumors, never substantiated, that he had converted to Islam. Others embraced him as one of their own after he sought refuge in the Gulf emirate of Bahrain in 2005, following a bruising trial on child molestation charges in the U.S.
"God have mercy on him. He was a Bahraini. He lived with us," said Jassim Ali, 35, shopping for Jackson CDs on Saturday in a music store in the capital, Manama.
Jackson only spent a year in the emirate, as a guest of Sheik Abdulla bin Hamad Isa Al Khalifa, a son of Bahrain's king and an aspiring songwriter who had befriended the entertainer. Jackson kept a low profile there, largely staying close to his host.
After Jackson's departure, the sheik sued Jackson for $7 million, saying he had failed to fulfill a joint music venture, but the two settled in November, with terms not disclosed.