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STORY: Top political figures from the Arab world and Islamic world arrived in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Tuesday to pay their respects at the funeral for Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Sultan.
The half-brother of King Abdullah and Prince Sultan, Prince Sutam bin Abdul-Aziz welcomed a steady stream of delegations. Morocco, Turkey, Yemen, Eritrea, Mauritania, Senegal, Iran, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Egypt, Syria, Qatar and Kuwait all sent officials to the funeral.
The funeral sets the stage for King Abdullah to appoint a new heir, widely expected to be veteran Interior Minister Prince Nayef, a move that would emphasize stability in the world's top oil exporter.
At stake is the direction of a major U.S. ally attempting to reconcile its conservative traditions with the needs of a modern economy and a young, increasingly outward-looking population.
In his six-year-old reign, King Abdullah has pushed changes aimed at creating jobs by liberalising markets and loosening the grip of religious hardliners over education and social policy.
The death of Crown Prince Sultan, who was also defence minister, might also lead to a wider cabinet reshuffle.
Saudi Arabia, which dominates world oil markets and holds profound influence over Muslims through its guardianship of Islam's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, faces turbulence in its neighbours and a confrontation with regional rival Iran.