King receives Sultan’s body

Prince Sultan diedRIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah was in the forefront of royals and top officials who were present at Riyadh Air Base to receive the body of Prince Sultan on Monday.

The body arrived at the air base at 7.05 p.m. from New York on a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight. Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior Prince Naif, other princes, Sultan’s sons and a large number of citizens were also present at the airport.Prince Sultan died in a New York hospital on Saturday after a prolonged illness.

“The plane carrying the body of Prince Sultan had top Saudi officials on board including Prince Salman, governor of Riyadh,” an informed source told Arab News.The funeral prayer for the late prince will be held at Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh after Asr prayer. A large contingent of world leaders, high-ranking officials and dignitaries are expected to take part in the funeral.

King Abdullah has ordered funeral prayers for Prince Sultan at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah and all other mosques in the Kingdom on Tuesday.Preparations were under way in the Saudi capital for the crown prince’s funeral and for receiving top world leaders, who have started arriving in Riyadh.While the mood is subdued in the Kingdom, there is no official mourning period in line with the teachings of Islam, the source added. A large group of world leaders, royals and officials are expected to jet into the Saudi capital amid tight security on Monday night and Tuesday in a staggered schedule for the funeral, diplomats said.

The US delegation will be led by Vice President Joe Biden, said Mofid H. Deak, a spokesman of the US Embassy.Prominent among other world leaders attending the funeral will be Japan’s Crown Prince Naruhito; Prince Charles, heir to the British throne; Spanish Crown Prince Felipe de Borbon; Sudanese President Omar Bashir; Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah would be among prominent Arab leaders. Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad will lead a three-member Indian delegation.A large group of Muslim leaders will throng the Saudi capital for the prayers and funeral rites. Funeral prayers are also likely to be offered in different mosques across the Kingdom.

Besides the significant presence of royals and high-ranking officials from the Gulf states, Indonesia is sending a special presidential envoy to attend the funeral, said Indonesian Ambassador Gatot Abdullah Mansyur.Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed has sent his Minister of Islamic Affairs Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari as a special envoy to attend the funeral. Senior Saudi officials including Prince Naif, second deputy premier and minister of interior, will lead the procession of thousands of mourners attending prayers and burial services for the crown prince here amid tight security.

The prince will be laid to rest at the city’s sprawling Al Oud Cemetery in a simple grave in keeping with Islamic burial traditions. The cemetery, where the late King Fahd, King Khaled, King Faisal and Prince Sultan’s father King Abdulaziz are also buried, is a common burial ground for the general public as well as for the members of the royal family in Riyadh.

The death of Prince Sultan was met with particular sadness and grief in the Kingdom and across the globe.Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al-Asheikh sent a message of condolence to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, and prayed that Almighty Allah would grant the late prince mercy and forgiveness and reward him for his devoted service to Islam, the Islamic Ummah, and his homeland. Tabuk Gov. Prince Fahd bin Sultan received a large number of mourners at his palace on Sunday.

Over 1,970,000 people searched “Google” for news about the death of late Prince Sultan, while Arab and international media have been reporting the news of the prince’s death since Saturday. The British Guardian newspaper described Prince Sultan as playing a “crucial” role in the region, adding that “Crown Prince Sultan was considered intelligent with innate worldly wisdom, a man on whom the king might rely.”

The BBC described the late prince as a “modernizer.” In the US, the Fox News credited Prince Sultan with “closing multi-billion dollar deals to establish the modern Saudi armed forces, including land, air, naval and air defense forces.” The Drudge Report placed a relatively large image of Prince Sultan on the front page of its website, with links to news stories reporting his death, including a link to a Fox News TV report on the death. King Abdullah received condolences from across the world on the prince’s death. – Arabnews