Saturday, October 22, 2011

KSA's Crown Prince Sultan Dies

Saudi Arabia is a country in mourning as its citizens learned of the October 22nd passing of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who was next in line to the Saudi throne. The news opens up major speculation as to who will be named to replace him as Crown Prince of the oil-rich nation. The Prince's health in the past few years had been failing, as he reportedly battled colon cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

Reports of the age of the Crown Prince range from 81 to 86 years old, a common dispute for many older Saudis. My own husband actually has three different official birthdays. Saudi Arabia uses the lunar Hijri calendar, which is 11-12 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar used in the west. This can create disputes about someone's birthdate when trying to convert the Arabic dates into the western calendar. The Islamic calendar is purely based on the moon and does not take into account the seasons. The cycle of the seasons repeats itself in the Hijri calendar only once every 33 Islamic years.

Crown Prince Sultan was a half brother of KSA's ruling monarch, beloved King Abdullah, who himself last week underwent yet another back surgery and is still recuperating. Sultan served his country in many varied capacities over the years - as First Deputy Prime Minister, Inspector General, Minister of Defense, Minister of Aviation, Governor of Riyadh, Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Communications. A Wikileaks document of a diplomatic cable dated March 2009 revealed that the Crown Prince was "incapacitated," due to the effects of dementia or Alzheimer's.

Crown Prince Sultan was fluent in English, married at least ten wives, and was father to at least seven sons. His funeral arrangements have been set for October 25, 2011, in Riyadh.

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