The state TV announced the death of Nayef, the half brother of Saudi King Abdullah, after a statement was issued by the Saudi royal court on Saturday.
The funeral is expected to be held on Sunday in the holy city of Mecca after Nayef’s body is returned.
Nayef was announced the new heir to the Saudi throne after the death of his full brother, former Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, at a New York hospital on October 22, 2011.
The 79-year-old Nayef, who was also the long-serving interior minister of Saudi Arabia, recently left the kingdom for medical treatment and was seen in Switzerland a few days ago.
Nayef had also traveled for medical reasons to a few countries including Algeria and the United States this year. The nature of his illness has not been made public.
His brother, Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, was recently quoted as saying in a Saudi daily that the crown prince was in “good health” and that he would “soon” return to Saudi Arabia.
Next in line for the position of crown prince is expected to be Nayef’s younger brother, Prince Salman, who is the minister of defense. However, no one has officially been announced to replace the dead crown prince.
Facts about Saudi Arabia
۱) AGE ISSUE: Talal bin Abdel Aziz says he is the one who deserves to get the post, since he is the elder brother. He says according to their father’s will, the elder brother will get it. Talal was deprived of the post the previous time when Sultan bin Abdel Aziz died last year. WHY? Because Talal is calling for a constitutional monarchy, not an absolute one. Talal calls for reforms.
۲) ETHNIC STRIFE: The people of Hijaz region including Mecca, Medina and Jeddah, are fiercely against the rule of Al Saudi.
۳) YEMEN: Assir, Jazan, Najjran, the three provinces occupied by Saudi Arabia are a bone of contention as people there want to rejoin Yemen as their motherland.
۴) Oil-rich Eastern Province is struck with unrest, protests, burning of the Saudi leaders’ pictures, women protests, student protests, killings and imprisonments.
۵) SAUDI HEREDITARY MONARCHY holds absolute power, but it is backed by the West.
۶) There is a family strife between Sudairi sons, who hold key security posts, and non-Sudairi ones.
۷) Israeli-occupied Saudi islands
۸) Saudi Arabia is helping the dictators such as Ben Ali, Mubarak.
۹) Saudi Arabia is helping the monarchy in Bahrain militarily.
۱۰) There is a growing rift among Salafi groups in Saudi Arabia, the new generation called the Awakening Salafists, who call for reforms, and the hardline ones.
۱۱) Poverty is rife in Saudi Arabia, mostly in Eastern Province where Shias reside and in provinces bordering Yemen.
۱۲) The US is making efforts in Saudi Arabia to prevent a power struggle and stunt the waves of Islamic Awakening in the country.