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Kuwait prays for ailing 91-year-old emir as Sheikh Sabah travels to US for medical treatment Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

Kuwait prays for ailing 91-year-old emir as Sheikh Sabah travels to US for medical treatment

Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah ruled Kuwait since 2006 [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 July, 2020

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Kuwait's 91-year-old emir will travel to the US for medical treatment on Thursday following his hospitalisation last week.

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Kuwait's 91-year-old ruler will travel to the US on Thursday for medical treatment, state-run news agency KUNA reported on Wednesday.

The health of Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah has elicited speculation following his hospitalisation on Saturday. The palace said the ruler was in "good health" at the time.

Citing Kuwait's Minister of Diwan (Royal Palace) Affairs, KUNA reported Sheikh's Sabah's medical team had advised him to fly to the US so he could "complete treatment after a successful surgical procedure".

The report did not elaborate on the emir's condition nor the nature of the surgery and ensuing treatment.

KTV1, one of Kuwait's state-run television channels, broadcasted a prayer for the emir's "safety and exit from the hospital".

Kuwait's crown prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah stepped in as partial ruler on Saturday following his half-brother's hospitalisation.

In August 2019, Kuwait acknowledged that Sheikh Sabah, ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state since 2006, suffered an unspecified medical "setback" that required him to be hospitalised.

This came after visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter that he was "praying for Emir’s speedy recovery", without elaborating.

The emir underwent medical tests in September 2019 shortly after arriving in the US, leading to a meeting with President Donald Trump being called off.

The emir had his appendix removed in 2002, two years after having a pacemaker implanted. In 2007, he underwent urinary tract surgery in the US.

Sheikh Sabah is widely regarded as the architect of modern Kuwait's foreign policy.

He has pushed for diplomacy to solve regional issues, such as the ongoing boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain.

The emir has also called for de-escalation in the Gulf as tensions surged between the US and its arch-foe Iran.

Sheikh Nawaf, 83, is Kuwait's crown prince and an elder statesman who has held high office for decades, including the defence and interior portfolios.

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