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19 June 2012

Saudi Arabia: Millions bid farewell to Naif

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By P.K. Abdul Ghafour

Jeddah: Millions of people in the Kingdom including foreign dignitaries, pilgrims and expatriate workers took part in the funeral of Crown Prince Naif yesterday. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and heads of state of several countries attended the funeral prayer at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

The body of Prince Naif was buried at Al-Adel Graveyard in the holy city, as per his last wish. It was taken to the graveyard in an ambulance soon after the funeral prayer at the Haram Mosque, which was attended by more than a million people including princes, ministers and a large number of pilgrims.

King Abdullah received condolences from world leaders including King Abdallah of Jordan, Egyptian military ruler Muhammad Hussein Tantawi, Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Miqati, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, President Idriss Déby of Chad, Jordanian Prime Minister Fayez Al-Tarawneh and Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi. Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, King Hamad of Bahrain Afghan President Hamid Karzai, President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine, Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, OIC Secretary-General Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby also attended the funeral.

King Abdullah gave instruction to hold in absentia funeral prayer for Prince Naif at the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah and other mosques in Saudi Arabia after Isha prayer yesterday.

Prince Naif, 78, died in Geneva on Saturday. His body arrived at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah from Switzerland earlier in the day on a special flight. Defense Minister Prince Salman and other senior royal family members including Riyadh Gov. Prince Sattam, Deputy Interior Minister Prince Ahmed and Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal were present at the airport to receive the body.

The body was accompanied by Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz bin Musaed, governor of Northern Boarder Province, Prince Faisal bin Mohammed bin Saud Al-Kabeer, Prince Saud bin Naif, head of the Crown Prince’s Court and his adviser, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, assistant minister of petroleum and mineral resources, and Prince Faisal bin Salman, chairman of Saudi Research & Marketing Group.

King Abdullah had arrived in Makkah on Saturday night to take part in the funeral. Upon arrival at the Guest Palace, the king was received by Prince Miteb, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Prince Mansour bin Miteb, minister of municipal and rural affairs, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Majed, governor of Madinah, and other officials.

Prince Naif, the Kingdom's interior minister for 37 years, had played an important role in defeating Al-Qaeda terrorists in the Kingdom and making Saudi Arabia an oasis of security and stability. He was appointed crown prince last year following the death of Prince Sultan and became second deputy premier in 2009.

Condolences poured in from world leaders. King Abdullah received more messages of condolences from British Prime Minister David Cameron, Jordan's King Abdallah, Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Mustafa Abdul Jalil, head of Libya's National Transitional Council. King Abdullah received Prince Rasheed bin Al-Hassan, who conveyed the condolences of Morocco's King Muhammad.

The Australian government has offered its condolences to the Saudi leadership and people. "Our thoughts are with Prince Naif's family, and with the people of Saudi Arabia at this time," Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr said. He noted Prince Naif’s efforts to combat extremism and safeguard regional stability. “Prince Naif also contributed to bilateral relations with Australia, particularly in the field of regional and international peace and security," Carr said.
Prince Naif died in Geneva while he was in the Swiss city for a medical check-up. After his death on Saturday his body was kept in state at the Geneva Mosque. The body was later airlifted on a Saudi Arabian Airlines aircraft to Jeddah.

Senior Saudi government officials remembered the late prince’s noble qualities as a great leader and statesman and underscored his services to the nation and religion. Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, state minister and commander of the National Guard, said he was deeply saddened by Prince Naif's death. "Prince Naif was a great leader who played an effective role in various positions and carried out his responsibilities efficiently."

Prince Miteb noted Prince Naif's ability to take appropriate decisions on vital issues.
Commerce and Industry Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah commended Prince Naif's contributions to stabilize Saudi market by combating trade fraud and taking firm action on violators. During Prince Naif's time laws were passed to prevent issuance of bad checks, he said, adding that it had a big impact on society. “The crown prince wished to implement the teachings of Shariah in all walks of life," Al-Rabiah said. "We'll continue to follow Prince Naif's advices with regard to trade and protecting the interests of consumers." Prince Naif had often emphasized the importance of security for the progress of trade and attracting foreign investment.

Haj Minister Bandar Al-Hajjar expressed his deep sorrow over Prince Naif's death. "We cannot do justice to the late prince by these few words. He was the country's No. 1 security man and a model of a sincere and dedicated statesman," the minister said and noted the late crown prince's services for the welfare and well being of the millions of pilgrims who come to Haj and Umrah every year.

(Courtesy: Arab News)

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