The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, has died at the age of 91, the Emiri Diwan announced Tuesday afternoon.
The Emir was hospitalized in the United States at the Mayo Clinic at the time of his passing, according to Aljazeera.
“With deep sadness and sorrow the Emiri Diwan sends its condolences to the people of Kuwait, the Arab and Muslim nations, and our friendly nations worldwide,” Royal Court Minister Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al Sabah said on state TV, Arab News reported.
The Emir was hospitalized for surgery this past July, before subsequently traveling via a US Air Force C-17 to the Mayo Clinic for further treatment. His condition was not identified at the time, nor was it named in Tuesday’s announcement.
Sheikh Sabah ruled Kuwait since 2006 and served as the country’s foreign minister from 1963 to 2003, when he became the nation’s prime minister. Born in 1929, the emir is widely regarded as the architect of modern Kuwait’s foreign policy, and the ruler of a nation with the world’s sixth largest known oil reserves.
During the 2011 Arab Spring, Sheikh Sabah ordered 1,000 dinar ($3,559) grants and free food vouchers for every Kuwaiti citizen.
Kuwait hosts some 13,500 American troops, including the forward command of US Army Central (CENTCOM), a permanent US military presence invited by the Emir following the US attack on Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during his occupation of Kuwait in 1991.
“One learns from the past and learns about it for the future,” Sheikh Sabah reportedly said at the time. “One has to consider arrangements that would make not only my country stable but make the whole area stable.”
During his absences, his 83-year-old half-brother, Crown Prince Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah was appointed acting ruler, in accordance with Kuwait’s constitutional law. Sheikh Nawaf, an elder statesman, has held high office for decades, including the defense and interior portfolios.
The Emir, a longtime widower, lived for many years in the Dar Salwa palace, named for his late daughter Salwa, who died of cancer in 2002.
The announcement of his death brought a flood of condolences from the Gulf, the region and beyond.
The Emir is survived by two sons.