Saudi King Salman’s brother dies at 96

RIYADH (AFP) – Saudi Arabia was gearing up Monday (July 29) for the funeral of King Salman’s elder brother, the royal court said, after he died at the age of 96.

“His Royal Highness Prince Bandar bin Abdulaziz al-Saud passed away,” the royal court said on Sunday in a brief statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

“A funeral prayer will be performed for his soul... on Monday... at the Grand Mosque in Mecca.”

The prince was the eldest surviving son of Saudi Arabia’s founding monarch, King Abdulaziz.

The royal court did not elaborate on the cause of his death, but some local media said he had been ill for several years.

He was not said to be a politically active member of the royal Al-Saud family which counts thousands of members, only a handful of whom wield direct influence over the kingdom.

His sons, however, hold key government positions. Prince Faisal bin Bandar is the governor of Riyadh while Prince Abdullah bin Bandar is the head of the Saudi National Guard.

His death comes as King Salman’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – who sidelined his cousin as heir to the throne – consolidates his grip on power.