Saudi Arabia’s 84-year-old emperor, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, has been admitted to hospital in Riyadh, the capital, suffering from gall bladder inflammation, state news agency SPA said Monday.
The king, who controlled the world’s largest oil exporter and since 2015 has been loyal to the U.S. partner, underwent medical tests, the agency said, without providing any specifics.
King Salman, the custodian of the holiest sites of Islam, served more than 2-1/2 years as the Saudi crown prince and deputy prime minister from June 2012 until he became king. He also served for more than 50 years as governor of the Riyadh region.
The defacto ruler and next in line with the throne is the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, well known by his initials MBS, who began reforms to transform the kingdom’s economy and end its “addiction” to oil.
The 34-year-old prince, who is popular among young Saudis, has won praise at home for easing social restrictions in the conservative Muslim kingdom, giving more rights to women and pledging to diversify the economy.
Yet state media regulation and a crackdown on opposition in the Kingdom make it hard to gage the level of domestic enthusiasm.