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Saturday, August 21, 1999 Published at 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK

World: Middle East

Funeral prayers for Prince Faisal

Mourners carry the body of Prince Faisal

Arab dignitaries and hundreds of Saudi princes have said funeral prayers for the Saudi Monarch's eldest son, Prince Faisal ibn Fahd ibn Abdul Aziz, in Riyadh.

Crown Prince Hamza of Jordan, the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and Bahrain's Prime Minister, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman, and Crown Prince, Shaikh Salman bin Hamad, were among the mourners.

King Fahd, who is in currently in Spain, did not attend the funeral because he was unable to make the journey.

Spanish national radio said King Fahd remained at his palace in the holiday resort of Marbella "since he is very upset and his health condition is delicate".

Prince Faisal's uncles, Crown Prince Abdallah, Defence Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdelaziz were among about 300 members of the royal family at the prayers.

Thousands of ordinary Saudis also joined in the prayers, braving temperatures of 42 degrees Celsius (108 Fahrenheit).

The burial of the prince is taking place away from public view, probably in an unmarked plot, in keeping with the austere traditions of the Wahhabi sect of Islam.

'Prince of youth'

Condolences for the loss of the prince came in from the Arab world - from President Mohammad Khatami of Iran, Hafez al Assad of Syria, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, King Abdullah of Jordan and others.

[ image: King Fahd: Devastated by the loss]
King Fahd: Devastated by the loss
Prince Faisal died on Saturday of a heart attack, after being admitted to a Riyadh hospital.

Believed to be in his 50s, he headed the Arab Sports Federation and had returned to Saudi Arabia earlier this week after attending the Arab Games in Jordan.

The games were suspended were three hours on Sunday as a mark of respect.

His position in the kingdom was the equivalent of minister of sports and youth.

The Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily said "the public named Prince Faisal 'the prince of youth' for his great efforts to help their aspirations".

Sports supporter

He was not in line to the Saudi throne - his uncle, Crown Prince Abdullah, is the heir. His father King Fahd is on holiday in Marbella, Spain.

The prince was a leading backer of sports in the Arab world, sponsoring a number of sports people and facilities.

He was also known for acts of charity towards the the young and the sick within the Arab world.

On Thursday it was reported that he had given $1m to a Jordanian orphanage which had been one of the late King Hussein's favourite charities.

King Fahd, who has never fully recovered from a stroke he suffered in 1995, has five other sons.

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