Saudi Arabia is facing testing times after the death of the heir to the Saudi throne died in Geneva on Saturday.
Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud died of heart problems in the Swiss city of Geneva on Saturday, just months after he took over as heir to the throne following the death of his brother, the royal court said. He was in his late 70s.
A brief statement from the Royal Court said Naif died outside the kingdom on Saturday, but gave no other details about the place and cause of death. Sources in Switzerland, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the crown prince died of heart problems while staying at his brother's residence in Geneva.
Naif's body was later flown from Switzerland to Saudi Arabia's western city of Jeddah. His remains were then taken to the Muslim holy city of Mecca, where Naif was buried at the Al-Adl cemetery near the Grand Mosque. Other members of the royal family and prominent Islamic scholars are also interred there.
It was not immediately clear who will become the kingdom's next crown prince, but the most likely candidate is believed to be 76-year-old Prince Salman. He previously served as Governor of Riyadh Province and was appointed Minister of Defense in November 2011 following the death of his brother Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The new crown prince will become heir to a king who is aged 89 at a time when Saudi Arabia faces a variety of challenges at home and abroad.
Meanwhile, condolences continued to pour in from around the world.
U.S. President Barack Obama said he was saddened to learn the news and praised Naif for dedicating himself to the security of Saudi Arabia and the region as a whole. "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," Obama said.
He added: "Crown Prince Nayif also strongly supported the broader partnership between our two countries begun by his late father, King Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, and President Roosevelt in their historic meeting in 1945. On behalf of the American people, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to King Abdullah, the royal family, and the people of Saudi Arabia."
British Prime Minister David Cameron also offered his condolences to the people of Saudi Arabia. "It is with great sadness that I heard today of the death of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Naif bin Abd Al Aziz Al Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," he said. "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."