Saudi Arabia was shaken by the death of Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz and enveloped in melancholy with the departure of one of the strongest pillars of the Third Saudi State.
In fact, Prince Sultan could be regarded as one of the founders of modern Saudi Arabia, for he took part in shaping the kingdom’s cultural, political and administrative features.
He possessed an alert political sense and played a major role in enhancing the stability of the government. His early initiation into public life enabled him to understand people and develop a unique kind of diplomacy in dealing with them. He dedicated his special generosity to serve the country in an unprecedented manner as far as governance is concerned.
The late prince was a combination of dignity and modesty. He was firm with enemies and rivals and forgiving with the poor and the oppressed. His major character traits included courage, perseverance and seriousness, as well as intelligence and wit. He was one of the country’s most organized rulers, for his work schedule would be set six months in advance and only changed when absolutely necessary.
He was open to new ideas within Islamic laws and regulations, was patient in achieving goals, and had an extraordinary ability to deliver his message in a simple and direct way. He was creative in his approach to history, and would use symbolic stories if he wanted to convey an opinion that might be not be fit for direct speech.
Prince Sultan was distinguished in his ability to absorb disputes and tolerate mistakes, yet if he felt he was wrong he would immediately apologize.
A Saudi citizen who holds an official position tells a story that gives insight into Prince Sultan’s style of governance and administration.
“I visited Prince Sultan in his office. He welcomed me and said, ‘You make mistakes and you know you do. You do so out of stubbornness.’ The impact of his words started showing on my face, so he laughed and said, ‘Don’t be upset. I am like you. King Faisal used to tell me that I make mistakes out of stubbornness.’ We laughed together.”
“The prince managed to tell me what he thinks in all honesty, but without hurting me, and he managed to win me to his side. I came out of his office satisfied.”
May Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz rest in peace.
The writer is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya Net. The article was first published in al-Hayat on Oct. 23, 2011 and translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid