Kuwait’s 91-year-old ruler Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah left for the United States on Thursday morning to seek further medical care after recently undergoing surgery, the state-run KUNA news agency reported.
The report did not elaborate on what required Sheikh Sabah to seek a previously unannounced medical treatment.
On Wednesday, KUNA quoted a statement from the country’s royal court saying Sheikh Sabah was leaving the country “based on advice from the medical team treating His Highness to complete his treatment after a successful surgical procedure”.
The surgery took place on Sunday.
The statement, attributed to Sheikh Ali Jarrah al-Sabah, the country’s royal court minister, did not elaborate or say where in the US the emir will receive treatment.
Kuwait also announced earlier this week that 83-year-old Crown Prince Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah had assumed some of Sheikh Sabah’s powers temporarily.
Under Kuwaiti law, when the emir is absent, Sheikh Nawaf, the emir’s half-brother, is appointed acting ruler.
Sheikh Nawaf is an elder statesman who has held high office for decades, including the defence and interior portfolios.
A copy of the ministerial decree posted by Kuwait’s official gazette, Kuwait Al-Youm, and seen by The Associated Press on Sunday, said the crown prince would be empowered for “the duration of a surgical procedure until the health event is over”.
Sheikh Sabah, a widely beloved ruler in this OPEC-member nation, took power in 2006, just nine days into the rule of the ailing Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah.
In September 2019, Sheikh Sabah underwent medical tests 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 fitted. In 2007, he underwent urinary tract surgery in the US.
He is widely regarded as the architect of modern Kuwait’s foreign policy.
Kuwait, a nation home to 4.1 million people, has the world’s sixth-largest known oil reserves.