Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah was flown to the US on July 23 to complete treatment after undergoing a "successful surgery" at a hospital in Kuwait City.

Emir Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Sabah is widely regarded as the architect of modern Kuwait's foreign policy.
Emir Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Sabah is widely regarded as the architect of modern Kuwait's foreign policy. (Reuters)

Kuwait's 91-year-old ruler, Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah, has died in the United States, state media and officials have said. 

State television announced his death after playing Quranic prayers, with Royal Court Minister Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al Sabah reading a brief statement, his hands shaking.

"With great sadness and sorrow, the Kuwaiti people, the Arab and Islamic nations, and the friendly peoples of the world mourn the death of the late His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, Emir of the State of Kuwait who moved to the realm of the Lord," the sheikh said, without offering a cause of death.

The Arab state announced mourning period of 40 days after emir's death. 

Architect of modern Kuwait 

The ailing emir was flown to the US on July 23 to complete treatment after undergoing a "successful surgery" at a hospital in Kuwait City.

In September 2019, the emir underwent medical tests shortly after arriving in the United States, leading to a cancellation of his meeting with President Donald Trump.

The emir, who has ruled the oil-rich Gulf state since 2006, had his appendix removed in 2002, two years after having a pacemaker fitted. 

In 2007, he underwent urinary tract surgery in the US.

The emir is widely regarded as the architect of modern Kuwait's foreign policy.

A longtime widower, Al Sabah lived for years in a palace known as Dar Salwa, which was named after his daughter Salwa, who died of cancer in 2002. 

He is survived by two sons.

New emir named

Kuwait named Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al Ahmad al Sabah as its new emir, after the death of his half-brother.

"Pursuant to the provisions of the constitution... the cabinet calls upon the crown prince, Sheikh Nawaf al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah, as the Emir of the State of Kuwait," deputy prime minister Anas Khalid al Saleh said in a televised address.

Mediation roles 

Kuwait, a nation home to 4.1 million people that's slightly smaller than the US state of New Jersey, has the world’s sixth-largest known oil reserves.

It has been a staunch US ally since the 1991 Gulf War expelled the occupying Iraqi forces of Saddam Hussein. 

Today, Kuwait hosts some 13,500 American troops, many at Camp Arifjan south of Kuwait City, which is also home to the forward command of US Army Central.

Al Sabah, a longtime foreign minister for Kuwait, has drawn praise during his rule for hosting donation drives for both war-torn Iraq and Syria. 

He also has been the lead negotiator in trying to resolve a years-long boycott of Qatar by four Arab nations over a political dispute.

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Emir 'valued discretion, moderation'

"He represents the older generation of Gulf leaders who valued discretion and moderation and the importance of personal ties amongst fellow monarchs," said Kristin Diwan, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington who studies Kuwait. 

"No question he has suffered from the lack of deference and respect shown by the younger and more brash young princes holding power today."

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies