The official statement said that Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, 91, was admitted to the National Guard Hospital in Riyadh Wednesday “for medical tests.” The monarch has been treated there before for back trouble. DEBKAfile adds: In view of his great age and the fact that a private hospital was installed in the palace years ago, Abdullah’s removal to a regular hospital signifies a deterioration in his health.
The monarch, who rules the world’s biggest oil exporter, suffers from chronic back ailments, overweight and the effects of heavy smoking. In recent weeks, he was rarely seen in public appearances or state events.
Abdullah ascended the throne in 2005, succeeding King Fahd. His half brother Salman, 77, was named crown prince in June 2012 and is next in the line of succession, followed by Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, the deputy crown prince.