P A Hameed, Padubidri
Daijiworld Media Network – Riyadh
Riyadh, Oct 26: The silence of Al-Oud Cemetery came under the sound of the emotional throng with deep sorrow and grief that consisted of the Saudi royal families, rulers, authorities, defense forces and several prominent leaders across the world.
As scheduled, the body of the late Crown Prince Sultan, also known as ‘Sultan Al-Khair’, which was sheathed in a simple brown cloth, was laid to rest in the graveyard soon after the Asr (late afternoon) prayer followed by the funeral prayer at Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh. It is said that the cadaver was brought from the New York to Riyadh by Saudi Airlines flight, which touched down at Riyadh Airbase on Monday October 24 evening around 7 p.m.
Daijiworld correspondent, P A Hameed, was able to see the scene, through a distance, of the thousands of people and military troops crowded in and around the cemetery that started all the way from Bath’ha to Manufuha districts.
The body was brought to the Oud burial ground at about 3.30 pm from Imam Turki mosque after the funeral prayer. Oud graveyard, situated at Al-Gubeirah district, around 1 km away from Bath’ha, heart of the city of Riyadh, is walled with a wide area that is being used for common people and royals alike. The Sultan Al-Khair was laid to rest in a simple ritual today evening in the graveyard, which is also the resting place for the former late Kings namely his father King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and his brothers like King Khalid, King Saud, King Faisal and King Fahd.
The high security arrangements were made throughout the roads that led to the mosque and cemetery. Though the huge crowd-both citizens and expatriates-were on the several streets of Bath’ha and other districts, yet they were satisfied just looking over the body of the deceased prince remotely. They were not allowed to reach the burial place because of the security reasons. The connecting roads namely King Abdul Aziz Road (Bath’ha), King Fahad Road, Makkah Road and Gulf Bridge on Khurais Road were fully blocked starting from 12.30 pm to 5 pm. However, the city remained normal without any much hue and cry, nor there were any special or abnormal security arrangements from the day one of the death of the Prince in New York hospital. Since the Islamic custom preclude any sort of official ceremonies either for the leaders or commoners, everything with regard to the funeral of the Prince was simple and sober. No official holiday or mourning for the government agencies or public or private sectors were announced. Various mosques across Saudi Arabia have offered the prayer of Janaz-e-ghaib (in the absence of deadbody) for the deceased Prince.
The late Prince Sultan was the defense minister for nearly five decades. He played a significant role with regard to the Kingdom’s involvement in the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq and other reformative measures. He was a man of religion, but at the same time, he was treasured with a tall personality with the mettle of forward-thinking and visionary ideas. Robert Lacey described him as a person of “Works and Plays hard” in his book ‘The Kingdom’, which spotlights on the Al-Saud family in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He had been suffering from the long illness since few years and was undergoing medical treatment for the disease. The surgery was done to him in the USA and he had to spend his stay out of the Kingdom for a lengthy of period.
The Allegiance Council formed in 2006 by the King Abdullah in order to be more transparent in the selection process of the rulers, will nominate the next crown prince, who is a King-in-waiting. It is widely spread news that with the death of Sultan, Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz, who is the second deputy premier and minister of interior will be the most likely candidate to be the Crown prince and heir after King Abdullah.
Though Prince Nayef was conservative, he is an able ruler dealing with the affairs of the Kingdom. It is worthwhile to remember that he had successfully managed to run the day-to-day affairs of Saudi Arabia in the absence of the King Abdullah and his brother Crown Prince Sultan’s ill-health. He is described to be more kind and familiar than any other princes in the Kingdom dealing and interacting with the grievances and problems of the people in general and citizens in particular.