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Saudi king in hospital for tests

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has been admitted to hospital for medical tests.

The 90-year-old king is undergoing tests at the National Guard's King Abdulaziz Medical City hospital in the capital Riyadh, according to the official Saudi Press Agency, citing a royal statement.

Just last week, the king had left the capital city to spend time at the royal encampment in Rawdat Khuraim, a green oasis about 62 miles north of Riyadh.

It was at the resort that the monarch met US President Barack Obama in March and appeared before the press wearing an oxygen tube. Official photographs of the king have also shown him in a wheelchair.

The health of the monarch is watched closely since any changes in leadership could have an impact on the stability of one of the world's largest oil producers. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with no elected parliament. The king has sole power to ratify legislation and appoint ministers.

The king reportedly underwent surgery in October 2011 and November 2012 for his back at the same hospital he was admitted to today. He also had two back surgeries in 2010 in New York.

His 79-year-old successor and half-brother, Crown Prince Salman, has increasingly represented the kingdom in meetings abroad. As deputy prime minister and defence minister, he has also increasingly presided over cabinet meetings at home.

The king has outlived two other half-brothers who held the crown prince post.

Under his guidance, a council comprised of the sons and some grandsons of modern Saudi Arabia's founder, King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, was activated and in March selected King Abdullah's half-brother Prince Muqrin, 69, as second-in-line to the throne.

The king officially assumed the throne in 2005, becoming the sixth king of Saudi Arabia, but had been widely viewed as the de facto ruler since the mid-1990s. As king, he holds the post of prime minister and commander of the National Guard.


From Belfast Telegraph