Saudi King Abdullah in a handout picture released by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) Image Credit: AFP

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s ageing King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, whose reduced public appearances have sparked health scares, held an audience in the Red Sea resort of Jeddah on Sunday, the official SPA news agency reported.

The 90-year-old monarch met princes and religious scholars at the Al Salam royal palace six days after the kingdom celebrated its national day, an event he did not attend.

The king’s absence from the public gaze on Saudi national day prompted rumours on social networking website Twitter about his health.

SPA published photographs showing the king with Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, grand mufti Shaikh Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh and other religious leaders, princes and officials.

The king’s half-brother Crown Prince Salman, 76, was named heir on the death of Prince Nayef in June.

Abdullah’s age and frequent hospitalisation have raised concerns about the future leadership of the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom, a key player in the Middle East and major exporter of oil.