Crown Prince Sultan, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense and Aviation, died Saturday outside the Kingdom following a prolonged illness, the Royal Court announced. He was 80.
The late Prince's funeral will take place Tuesday.
"With deep sorrow and distress, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah announces the demise of his brother Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, who passed away early Saturday morning," the Royal Court said in a brief statement.
The Royal Court commended Prince Sultan's contributions toward ensuring the progress and prosperity of the Kingdom. "While conveying its condolences to the Saudi people, we pray to the Almighty that He may bless the late prince with his mercy and forgiveness and admit him to His Paradise and give him the best of rewards for the contributions he made for his religion and nation," it said.
The Royal Court said the funeral prayer for Prince Sultan, who was known as Sultan Al-Khair (goodness), would be held at Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh Tuesday after the Asr prayer. Prominent world Leaders and Arab Heads of State are expected to attend the ceremony.
Prince Sultan, a half brother of King Abdullah, served as the Kingdom's Defense Minister for nearly five decades. A humanitarian Prince, Sultan was a great leader and worked for the success of Arab and Muslim causes. He represented Saudi Arabia at UN General Assembly meetings and Arab and Islamic summits several times.
Sultan had been in the United States since mid-June for medical treatment. Before that he had spent about a year in the US and Morocco for treatment and returned to the Kingdom on November 11, 2009 to a rapturous welcome.
King Faisal assigned Sultan the defense portfolio in 1962 and in 1982, his brother King Fahd appointed him Second Deputy Premier. Sultan was educated in the Royal Court and was clearly on the rise when named Governor of Riyadh in 1947. He had also served as Minister of Agriculture and Transport.
As Defense and Aviation Minister, and Inspector General, Sultan oversaw a major buildup of the Kingdom's Armed Forces and took Saudi Arabian Airlines to greater heights. He presided over a major military operation to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi occupation in 1991 with the support of US-led Allied Forces.
Prince Naif, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, is second in line to become the Crown Prince. Prince Naif, half-brother of King Abdullah, was named Second Deputy Premier in March 2009. (Arab News)