Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s 84-year-old ruler, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, has been admitted to hospital in the capital Riyadh, suffering from inflammation of the gall bladder, state news agency SPA said on Monday.
The agency added that the King has ruled the world’s largest oil exporter since 2015 and is an ally with the United States, and is currently undergoing medical examinations.
King Salman, the custodian of the Islamic shrine, has served as the Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia for more than 2-1/2 years from June 2012 until he became king. He also served as governor of the Riyadh region for more than 50 years.
The defacto ruler and next in line to the throne is the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, widely known by his initials MBS, who has launched reforms to transform the kingdom’s economy and end its “addiction” to oil.
The 34-year-old prince is very popular among young Saudis. He has won praise in the country for relaxing the social restrictions of the conservative Muslim kingdom, giving women more rights and committing to economic diversification.
For the supporters of the King, after decades of cautiousness, stagnation and trembling, this bold change at home and abroad is a welcome change.
However, the state’s control of the media and the suppression of Saudi Arabia’s dissent make it difficult to measure the level of enthusiasm in the country.