Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah was sworn in as emir following the 2020 death of his predecessor Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah. Image Credit: REUTERS

DUBAI:  The ruling emir of Kuwait was hospitalised on Wednesday “due to an emergency health problem” but later reported to be in stable condition.

The report by the state-run KUNA news agency did not elaborate on the problem faced by 86-year-old Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah. However, Sheikh Nawaf has handed over power several times during his rule to his deputy while facing medical checks and other issues.

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State-run news previously reported that he traveled to the United States for unspecified medical checks in March 2021.

Sheikh Nawaf was sworn in as emir following the 2020 death of his predecessor, the late Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah. The breadth and depth of emotion over the loss of Sheikh Sabah, known for his diplomacy and peacemaking, was felt across the wider Middle East.

Sheikh Nawaf’s term, meanwhile, has largely been quiet as Kuwait struggles through political disputes — including the overhaul of Kuwait’s welfare system — which prevented the sheikhdom from taking on debt. That’s left it with little in its coffers to pay bloated public sector salaries, even as Kuwait generates immense wealth from its oil reserves.

In 2021, Sheikh Nawaf issued a long-awaited amnesty decree, pardoning and reducing the sentences of nearly three dozen Kuwaiti dissidents in a move aimed at defusing a major government standoff.

Kuwait, a nation home to some 4.2 million people, 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 Hussain. Kuwait hosts some 13,500 American troops in the country, as well as the forward headquarters of the US Army in the Middle East.