The body of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saudi was laid to rest on Sunday in Mecca. His Janaaza prayer was conducted at Masjid al Haraam immediately after Maghrib prayers.
The 79-year-old prince died of “cardiac problems” while he was at his brother’s residence in Geneva, Switzerland, according to a medical source in the city.
Nayef, interior minister since 1975, was the heir to Saudi King Abdullah and was appointed crown prince in October after the death of his elder brother and predecessor in the role, Crown Prince Sultan who passed away in the USA.
The Saudi royal court announced on Saturday that Nayef, the next in line to the throne had been ill for months and died in Switzerland where he was being treated.
According to emirates247 website, Nayef was born in around 1933 in Taif, the mountain town where the royal court would annually retreat to each year from the stifling summer heat of the desert capital Riyadh and the Red Sea port of Jeddah, the kingdom’s second city.
A son of Ibn Saud by his favourite wife Hassa bint Ahmed al-Sudairi, Nayef was one of seven of her sons who were groomed young for high office and formed their own power bloc within an extended family that included nearly 40 other half-brothers.
Named governor of Riyadh aged only 20, Nayef impressed his father and went on to become interior minister in 1975 where he was soon known as an ally of the Wahhabi clerics who supported Saudi rule and had run the palace school of his childhood.
Crown Prince Nayef built the formidable security force which crushed an Al Qaeda revolt in Saudi Arabia and with it any dissent against his family’s century-old grip on the world’s leading oil exporter.
Nayef’s own son Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a well regarded deputy interior minister in the current admin, headed Saudi efforts to root al Qaeda from the kingdom.
As the man to whom regional governors answered, Nayef personally handled the petitions of individual Saudi citizens on a daily basis, cultivating a network of supporters across a kingdom where tribal and regional ties still matter.
No one is officially in line to replace Prince Nayef, but Prince Salman, who took over the portfolio of defence minister after Prince Sultan’s death, appears to be a strong candidate. Prince Salman has been the governor of Riyadh for almost five decades.