Saudi heir to throne dies in Geneva
ReutersSaudi Arabia's Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud has died in Geneva.
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud has died, the royal court said Saturday, according to wire-service reports.
Saudi state television said Nayef died in Geneva where he was being treated for an unknown medical problem, Reuters and others reported. Nayef was believed to have had heart trouble, the New York Times said. Nayef left Saudi Arabia in May for medical tests and a vacation. He also had medial tests in March in Cleveland.
Nayef, a hard-line interior minister and next in line to succeed King Abdullah, was in his late 70s. Reports of Abdullah's age differ, stating the king's age at 88 or 89.
Abdullah last fall named Nayef to as heir after the death of his brother, Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, now defense minister of the kingdom, is considered the likely next heir to Abdullah.
"The selection process is pretty clear. Prince Salman will most likely become the next crown prince," Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, told Bloomberg News.
Salman "represents continuity both domestically and in terms of Saudi foreign policy," F. Gregory Gause, a University of Vermont instructor and Saudi scholar, told The Wall Street Journal.
Nayef oversaw Saudi Arabia's anti-terrorist efforts, quelling attacks by al-Qaeda and supporting the religious police in the Sunni Muslim nation, the biggest producer of oil on the globe.
Shares on Saudi Arabia's stock exchange, the only Gulf Arab bourse open on Saturdays, reportedly tumbled after state TV reported Nayef's death.