RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - The king of Saudi Arabia led a burial ceremony Sunday for his brother, Crown Prince Nayef Abdul-Aziz, in the holy city of Mecca.
King Abdullah, 88, gathered with royal family members and international envoys for the service. Prince Nayef’s wrapped body was carried through crowds of relatives in a ceremony broadcast live on several television channels.
Nayef was the second heir to die outside the country in less than a year. Abdullah has outlived two appointed successors from among the elderly group of sons of the founding monarch, King Abdul-Aziz.
Health issues increasingly preoccupy the ruling inner circle in Saudi Arabia and show the vivid contrast between a leadership born at the dawn of Saudi’s oil-rich age and the current population heavily weighted toward youth - with more than half under 25 years old.
Saudi authorities have led efforts in the Gulf to counter Arab Spring-inspired calls for reform, using crackdowns, intimidation, and lavish spending on state jobs and handouts. Gulf officials have proposed closer cooperation on security, including monitoring social media.
Nayef, 78, the country’s interior minister, was considered wary of even the modest changes brought by Abdullah, including pledges to allow women to vote and run in the 2015 municipal elections.