Saudi prince's funeral to be held in Mecca

 The funeral prayers for Saudi crown prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who breathed his last Saturday following a prolonged illness, will be held Sunday after sunset prayers (around 9.45 p.m. IST) in the holy city of Mecca. He was 78.

A statement from King Abdullah published by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA), said Prince Nayef died Saturday "outside the kingdom" and would be buried Sunday after Maghreb (sunset) prayers in Mecca.

The 78-year-old crown prince was hospitalised in Geneva and had left the country for  medical tests late last month, BBC reported. 

Saudi Arabia is expected to declare a period of mourning following Prince Nayef's burial.
Prince Nayef was also deputy prime minister and interior minister.

As the kingdom's interior minister since 1975, prince Nayef led the crackdown on Al Qaeda's offshoot in the country after the Sep 11, 2001 attacks in the US.

According to BBC, British Prime Minister David Cameron praised the prince's "dedication" and US President Barack Obama focused on his role in fighting terrorism.

Nayef was named crown prince last year succeeding Sultan bin Abdul Aziz.

The succession in Saudi Arabia passes among the sons of former King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, who established the modern kingdom during his reign from 1932 to 1953. Till date, five brothers have become kings and about 20 are still alive.

The 88-year-old King Abdullah had a back operation last year.
Next in line is expected to be Prince Nayef's brother, Prince Salman, 76, who was appointed defence minister in November after spending five decades as governor of Riyadh.

The new crown prince must be approved by the Allegiance Council, a 34-strong assembly of King Abdul Aziz's sons and some of his grandchildren.

Committed to maintaining Saudi Arabia's conservative traditions based on the Wahhabi doctrine of Islam, the crown prince was seen to be more conservative than King Abdullah.

In 2001, Prince Nayef, however, had supported a move to issue women with their own identity cards, a decision which offered women more freedom in many financial and legal transactions, BBC reported.

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