The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, has died aged 86 after ruling the Gulf state for three years.
Sheikh Nawaf had been admitted to hospital in November following an emergency health issue, according to state news agency KUNA. The 86-year-old’s condition was stable at the time, KUNA reported.
Sheikh Nawaf was defence minister during one of the biggest crises in Kuwaiti history, when Iraq invaded in 1990, triggering what became known as the Gulf War.
During his long career, he also served in government positions including Interior Minister and Minister of Social Affairs.
He was named Crown Prince in 2006 – a position he held for 14 years, becoming an influential figure in the country’s decision-making process.
He was sworn in as Emir in September 2020, following the death of Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who died at the age of 91 after ruling the Gulf state for 14 years.
Al-Sabah’s loss was felt across the Middle East, and he was widely respected for mediating conflict in the volatile region.
Following an emergency Cabinet meeting, the Kuwaiti government announced Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah, 83, as the new Emir of Kuwait on Saturday.
Al-Sabah has been Kuwait’s de facto ruler since 2021, amid the Emir’s ailing health.
In a press release published on Saturday, the Kuwait government expressed overwhelming “sorrow and sadness” over the death of its leader, paying tribute to his “long and illustrious career.”
The government also announced 40 days of mourning, as well as a three-day holiday, according to state news agency KUNA.
Kuwait has been ruled by a constitutional monarchy since gaining its independence from Britain in 1961.
The Gulf Arab nation, which is home to over 4.2 million people, has the world’s sixth-largest oil reserves.