RIYADH: Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior Prince Naif said on Thursday the return of Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, to Riyadh after full recovery from a prolonged illness would be the happiest moment for the Kingdom and its people. The crown prince is due to arrive in Riyadh today.

Prince Sultan was convalescing in the Moroccan city of Agadir after undergoing surgery at a New York hospital in February. Despite his illness, the crown prince was keeping himself abreast with the news and developments in the Kingdom, while closely following up on the affairs of the homeland, Prince Naif said.

“I am very proud to say that Prince Sultan is the right-hand man of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah. During their era Saudi Arabia has made and will continue to make great achievements,” Prince Naif told Saudi Arabian Television. “Saudi Arabia, God willing, will remain a strong, respectable and generous country.”

He praised the initiatives taken by some Saudis to carry out charitable projects to mark Prince Sultan’s return, saying such activities would benefit the poor and the needy. The capital city wore a festive look on Thursday with thousands of Saudi flags, banners, placards, billboards and life-size photographs of Saudi leaders decorating its main roads, streets and squares.

Prince Mishaal, chairman of the Allegiance Commission, and senior officials expressed their happiness that the crown prince is returning today.

“The whole nation celebrates the return of Crown Prince Sultan,” said Prince Muhammad bin Fahd, governor of the Eastern Province in a statement. Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of the Disabled Children’s Associ-ation, congratulated King Abdullah and the nation on the crown prince’s return.

“Prince Sultan is a symbol of goodness and achievements,” he said and praised the crown prince’s support for charitable and humanitarian projects.

Abdullah Omar Naseef, secretary-general of the International Islamic Council for Dawa and Relief, said: “I am glad that I will see the smiling face of the crown prince again, who is known for his benevolence, visionary leadership, humanism and philanthropy and has brought smiles to the faces of millions of poor and needy.

“All Saudis and residents have a reason to be happy and grateful to Prince Sultan for his charity works, his generous donations for noble causes and support for the poor.”

“We are overjoyed by the news of the arrival of this great and visionary benefactor,” said Shoura Council member Hamza Khoshain.

Khoshain added: “Crown Prince Sultan and his charitable works have touched the hearts of millions of people not only in Saudi Arabia but also in different parts of the world.”

The crown prince made the first donation to Prince Salman Charitable Housing Society on Wednesday, which marked the inauguration of a donation campaign for the society.

The donation ceremony at his Agadir palace was attended by Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman, who is the society’s president; and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, vice president and chairman of the society’s executive committee.

The mobile donation service aims to facilitate contribution to the society by sending a blank message to the number 5040 for donating a sum of SR12.

So far as the life and achievements of Crown Prince Sultan are concerned, they have made indelible prints on one and all.

Sultan received his early education in religion, culture and diplomacy along with his brothers at the Royal Court.

He was appointed governor of Riyadh in 1947 before becoming the minister of agriculture in 1953 and minister of communications in 1955.

King Faisal appointed him minister of defense and aviation way back in 1962. He then presided over the development of Saudi armed forces, providing the Kingdom with a modern, well-equipped defense capability.

In 1982, King Fahd appointed him as second deputy prime minister, while on Aug. 1, 2005 he was appointed the crown prince and deputy premier by King Abdullah. — With input from P.K. Abdul Ghafour

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