The king of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, is clinically dead, reports the daily Al-Sharq il-Awsat.
His reported brain death occurred following complicated back surgery that took place in Riyadh on November 17 at the National Guard’s King Abdulaziz Medical City, according to the report, and the king’s aides claimed he is in good health.
Nevertheless, medical sources told the newspaper the monarch’s condition was “expected to change soon.”
Abdullah has been upon the throne since 2005. The crown has passed down through a line of sons since the death in 1953 of the founder of the kingdom, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud.
The king’s brother, Crown Prince Salman, defense minister of Saudi Arabia, reassured the nation and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council meeting Riyadh “good news that he is well and in good health.” Thirteen years his junior, Salman also “reassured” Saudis about the monarch’s health the day before at a cabinet meeting, according to the SPA state news agency.
But Salman gave no details on Abdullah’s condition, nor any information on when he might be discharged from the hospital.
Salman’s statement Tuesday on Saudi state television was aimed at settling concerns over the stability of the nation, the world’s biggest exporter of oil.
Saudi Arabia holds more than a fifth of world petroleum reserves. Home to the city of Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, the country is also the biggest U.S. ally in the Gulf region.
On Tuesday, the Saudi stock market index dropped to a 10-month low, closing 1.3 points lower.
In the event of his death, King Abdullah has named Salman as heir apparent, a move made in June following the death of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz.