Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, alongside the people of Saudi Arabia and the Arab and Islamic world, yesterday mourned the death of Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, the Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister of Interior, who passed away outside the Kingdom on Saturday at the age of 78.
Prince Naif’s death comes after many eventful years of continuous state service, spanning several eras, during which he held numerous leadership and management positions for more than 60 years and until the day of his death. The Crown Prince will be laid to rest today in al-Adel cemetery in Mecca, after prayers were held in his honor in the Holy Mosque.
Grief prevailed over all regions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after the news was announced that the Saudi Crown Prince had died, who was described as “a man of difficult tasks”. Prince Naif had a significant presence in Saudi administrative and political life, engaging in its battles at an early age during the reign of his father, King Abdul Aziz, the founder of modern-day Saudi Arabia, whom Prince Naif was believed to be his twenty-third son. During his career the late Prince Naif held many official positions, from becoming Governor of Riyadh Province more than 60 years ago until his appointment as Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister in October 2011.
Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz, in his capacity as Minister of Interior for over 37 years, devoted his attention to security issues and worked to develop a partnership between the Saudi citizens and the security institutions. One of his most prominent achievements was his fight to combat cases of extremism and terrorism, believing that extremist thoughts could be countered by promoting a moderate ideology, in a manner that was more effective and beneficial than combatting the problem with weapons and force alone.
Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz’s efforts became prominent at Arab and international levels, and world leaders have expressed their grief over his death:
Bahrain and Jordan have announced a day of general mourning, whilst Morocco’s King Muhammad VI said that Prince Naif’s passing was a great loss to Morocco and the Muslim Ummah.
Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Al-Hadi said that Prince Naif was close to the concerns and aspirations of the Yemeni people, whilst Jordan’s King Abdullah II sent his condolences to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, declaring that with the passing of Prince Naif, Saudi Arabia and the Arab and Islamic nation had lost one of its most dedicated men.
Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, said that Kuwait has lost a dear brother and sincere supporter.
Professor Tawfiq bin Ahmed Khoja, the director general of the Executive Board of the Council of GCC Ministers of Health, said Crown Prince Naif “has accomplished gigantic achievements in all fields, particularly in the spheres of the defense of his homeland, its security, progress and prosperity.”
The Palestinian Fatah Movement commended in a press statement Naif for his pioneering roles in the support of the Palestinian people and their just issues.
US President Barack Obama praised Crown Prince Naif for helping to build a US-Saudi partnership on counter-terrorism, stating that: “Under his leadership, the United States and Saudi Arabia developed a strong and effective partnership in the fight against terrorism, one that has saved countless American and Saudi lives”.
French President Francois Hollande offered his condolences saying France had lost “a friend”, and that “Saudi Arabia has lost a statesman who left his mark on the development of his country and contributed decisively to its security and the common fight against terrorism”.
For his part, British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a government statement yesterday that: “It is with great sadness that I heard today of the death of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. My thoughts are with the Kingdom and its people at this time. I had the pleasure of meeting Crown Prince Naif in January and was struck by the leadership and dedication with which he served his country for so many years”.