DHAKA: Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who became heir to the throne of Saudi Arabia last year at the age of 78.
He was also the head of the country’s interior ministry.
Nayef was recently abroad for medical treatment and had ‘died outside the kingdom’, said Al-Ekhbariyah Television, quoting a statement from the royal court.
Saturday’s statement from King Abdullah said the prince would be buried after sunset prayers in the Muslim holy city of Mecca on Sunday.
The nature of his illness has not been made public, reports Al Jazeera.
Less than two weeks ago, his brother Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz was quoted as saying in a Saudi daily that the crown prince was in ‘good health’ and that he would ‘soon’ return to the kingdom.
Nayef was appointed crown prince after the death of his elder brother and predecessor in the role, Crown Prince Sultan.
Nayef has earned a reputation as a traditionalist who is opposed to changes in the country’s power structure.
He was appointed governor of Riyadh when he was barely 20 years old, and held the position briefly before entering the interior ministry.
After a stint as deputy, he was elevated to interior minister in 1975, when his brother Fahd left the post to become crown prince.
Nayef is popular with some Western government for efforts to combat al-Qaeda.
His son, Muhammad bin Nayef, the deputy interior minister for counterterrorism, was targeted by a suicide bomber in 2009.
Nayef’s death means the 89-year-old King Abdullah must nominate a new heir for the second time in nine months.
Defence Minister Prince Salman, 76, seen as likely to continue King Abdullah’s cautious reforms, has long been viewed as the next most senior prince in the kingdom’s succession.
Nayef, King Abdullah and Salman are among the nearly 40 sons of Saudi Arabia’s founder, Abdulaziz ibn Saud, who established the kingdom in 1935.
BDST: 1722 HRS, JUN 16, 2012
Edited by Robab Rosan, Cultural Affairs Editor
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