Saudi Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, who has been undergoing medical tests abroad, is in “good health” and will “soon” return to the kingdom, local media reported on Sunday.
Prince Nayef is “well and in good health… and he will soon return” to Saudi Arabia, his brother and one of the deputy interior ministers, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, was quoted as saying by local daily, Al-Watan.
It was unclear where Prince Nayef, who is also the interior minister, is staying.
On May 26, state news agency SPA reported that the 79-year-old crown prince left the country for medical tests abroad for the second time in less than three months without naming the destination.
In March, the royal palace said the crown prince went to Algeria on holiday after the results of medical tests he underwent in the US city of Cleveland were reported as “reassuring.” It was unclear what the tests were for.
He returned to Saudi Arabia from Algeria on April 10.
Prince Nayef — who has been interior minister for nearly four decades and led the kingdom’s post-September 11, 2001 crackdown on Al-Qaeda — was named crown prince in October last year, following the death of Prince Sultan, one of his brothers.
In recent years, he has spent an increasing proportion of his time at his palace in Morocco after handing over day-to-day security activities to his son, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is also deputy interior minister.
Seen as more conservative than the 87-year-old king, Prince Nayef is a staunch defender of the Saudi dynasty who has resisted any form of opposition.
The advanced age and failing health of King Abdullah and of his half-brothers in line to succeed him have raised concerns about the future of the oil giant in the face of the turmoil rocking the Arab world.
For the moment, the key ministerial posts are occupied by the sons of the kingdom’s founder King Abdul Aziz, all of whom are in their 70s or 80s and some of whom have health problems.
King Abdullah himself underwent a back operation aimed at repairing a slackening ligament near the third vertebra last year.
In November 2010 he also underwent surgery for a debilitating herniated disc complicated by a blood clot that put pressure on his spine, and he underwent further surgery in December.