Late crown prince was charity foundation himself

Prince Sultan remained preoccupied with the nation’s cares even while in his sick bed

Deceased prince oversaw development plans, expansion of investment scope and diversification of the resources of income

Saudi leaders, government officials and ordinary citizens expressed their grief over the death of Crown Prince Sultan on Saturday.

Jazan Governor, Prince Muhammad bin Nassir, received officials and members of the public who gathered at the governor’s palace to express their grief on hearing the news of the crown prince’s death. He said the services of the crown prince to Islam and the nation were great and stressed that the sons of King Abdulaziz would continue their dedicated service to the country.

Similarly, Qassim Governor, Prince Faisal bin Bandar, also received citizens and government officials who flocked to the governor’s palace in Buraidah to offer condolences.

“On behalf of me and on behalf of you all, I offer condolences to King Abdullah, Prince Naif, all other sons of the late King Abdulaziz, people of the Kingdom and all Arab and Muslim nations,” Prince Faisal said addressing the mourners.

Northern Border Province Governor, Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, expressed his deep sorrow at the death of the crown prince in a statement to the SPA. “With the crown prince’s demise we have lost a strong pillar that supported the kingdom in its march to modernization and prosperity,” Abdullah said, adding that the crown prince served as the right arm of King Abdullah.

Commending the charity work of the crown prince, the governor said: “Prince Sultan stood on the side of the poor and the needy in the Muslim and Arab world apart from helping the citizens in the Kingdom.”

Eastern Province Governor, Prince Muhammad bin Fahd, in his condolence message said Crown Prince Sultan’s achievements and charitable deeds were countless and would remain fresh in people’s memories forever. “We, citizens and expatriates in the Eastern Province, small and big alike, have been deeply pained by the demise of the crown prince.

We offer our condolences to the king, Second Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Prince Naif, bereaved royal family and the Saudi people and also to the Arab and Muslim world,” he said.

Saudi Arabia mourned the death of Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, who passed away at a New York Hospital.

Crown Prince Sultan will be buried in Riyadh on Tuesday. Prince Sultan passed away while the monarch himself, 87, remains in hospital in Riyadh, a week after he had an operation on his back.

Prince Sultan's death would not lead to any changes in the kingdom's domestic and foreign policies, according to Saudi political analysts.

"It is with deep sorrow and grief that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah mourns the loss of his brother and Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Prince Sultan," the palace said in a statement announcing Sultan's death. Speaking to Gulf News, they said that Prince Sultan played a pivotal role not only in almost all spheres of nation building but also in forming the kingdom's domestic, regional and foreign policies.

They lauded the late crown prince for his unflinching support to King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz in vigorously pursuing reforms in political, social and economic realms.

Mohammad Al Zulfa, prominent analyst and former member of the Shura Council, commented that the death of any leader, whether it is king or crown prince or president of any country in the world, most often may eventually lead to substantial changes in the policies of the respective countries.

"However, in the case of Saudi Arabia, this is not going to happen," he said and added: "As per the spirit of the Basic Governing Law and the Law of the Allegiance Council, members of the royal family will, most probably, pledge their allegiance to Second Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz as the new crown prince. Before the formation of the council by King Abdullah in 2006, the king used to appoint the crown prince immediately after he ascended to the throne."

The council, which is composed of the sons, nephews and grandsons of Saudi Arabia's founder, King Abdulaziz, is to vote by a secret ballot to choose future kings and crown princes. It was decided at the time of formation that the council's mandate will not start until after the reigns of King Abdullah and Prince Sultan are over.

Noted political expert Mohammad Al Eisa told Gulf News that the death of Prince Sultan is a great loss to the kingdom and the world as he played a crucial role in building Saudi Arabia as the powerful state in the region.

"The prince also played a remarkable role in shaping the kingdom's domestic and foreign policies. He extended outstanding contributions in building strong armed forces capable of facing any challenges and ensuring political stability in the oil-rich kingdom," he said.

Mohammad Al Eisa also said that the death of Prince Sultan is a great loss to other Arab and Muslim countries which see in him a good friend and champion of humanitarian causes.

Meanwhile, the Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL) expressed deep sorrow over the death of Prince Sultan.

In a statement issued in Makkah, the MWL conveyed condolences to King Abdullah, Second Deputy Premier Prince Naif, members of the royal family and the Saudi people over the death of the crown prince.

The MWL especially highlighted the leadership of Prince Sultan in carrying out humanitarian and charity works within the kingdom and various parts of the world.

"These charity works brought to him the title of "Sultan of Charity" (Sultan Al Khair). It is worthy to note that a large number of weaker sections of people, including the poor, orphans, widows, and the sick, in addition to charity organizations, have benefited from the donations and help extended by the prince," the statement added.

The crown prince, aged 80, served as the oil kingpin's defense minister for nearly five decades and had been in the United States since mid-June for medical treatment.

Condolences flooded into the kingdom from world leaders as news of the prince's death was confirmed. Kuwait said it would mark Prince Sultan's death with three days of official mourning, with flags to be flown at half mast.

HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah also sent to King Abdullah a cable of condolence. In his cable, the Amir offered the sincere and heartfelt condolence of the Kuwaiti leadership, government and people over the death of the Saudi crown prince. He remembered Prince Sultan's great services and national role in the achievement of comprehensive renaissance in diverse fields in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. By the departure of the Saudi crown prince, both Arab and Muslim worlds have lost a great and sincere man who devoted himself to serving and supporting Arab and Muslim issues, he said. HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah sent the Saudi king similar cables of condolence.

US President Barack Obama expressed "great regret" over the death of the prince, whom he described as a "strong supporter of the deep and enduring partnership between our two countries forged almost seven decades ago". "On behalf of the American people, I extend my deepest condolences to King Abdullah, the royal family, and the people of Saudi Arabia."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on a trip to the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan, said the prince would be "missed," stressing Washington's enduring ties with the oil-rich Gulf state. "I offer my deepest condolences for this loss to King Abdullah and the Saudi people," she said. "He will be missed.

In Jordan, King Abdullah II opened a World Economic Forum in the country's Dead Sea resort town with a minute of silence in the late prince's honor, hailing him as a "champion of the Arab and Muslim cause". Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "saddened" to hear of Sultan's death.

"He had many friends in this country, and we have all benefited from his wisdom and expertise in international affairs over his long years of service," the prime minister said.

Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, wrote to King Abdullah, his Clarence House office said. "The Prince of Wales sent a personal letter of condolence to the king of Saudi Arabia expressing his deep sadness at the news," a spokesman said.

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, despite strains in ties with Riyadh over his security forces' deadly crackdown on anti-regime protests, also sent condolences to the king. And Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi sent condolences, expressing "sympathy to his counterpart and the deceased's next of kin," media reported.

The message was issued amid heightened tensions between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran as a result of US allegations that Iranian officials plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington. Though Iran has fiercely denied the accusations, Saudi Arabia has accepted them and warned it was mulling "a suitable response".

The Al Saud family has ruled Saudi Arabia ever since the kingdom's establishment in 1932 and under its rules of succession the throne passes in turn to the sons of its founder Abdulaziz. Prince Naif, who is expected to become crown prince, was named second deputy premier in March 2009.

Another half-brother of King Abdullah, he holds the interior portfolio. Prince Sultan's funeral is to be held on Tuesday after his body has been repatriated from the United States. He is survived by 32 children.

They include Bandar, the former ambassador to the United States who now heads the National Security Council, and Khaled, Sultan's assistant in the Defense Ministry.