Saudi King Abdullah admitted to Riyadh hospital

The state news agency said the king was admitted to the National Guard’s King Abdulaziz Medical City hospital in Riyadh.

A handout picture released by the Saudi Press Agency September 29 2013 shows Saudi's King Abdullah at the Al Salam royal palace. King Abdullah was admitted to hospital on December 31, 2014 AFP Photo
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RIYADH // King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was admitted to hospital on Wednesday for “medical checks”, the royal court said.

The king was admitted to the King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyadh, a court statement carried by the official SPA news agency said.

King Abdullah is believed to be around 90 although his exact age is unknown.

He underwent two operations in October 2011 and November 2012 to correct “ligament slackening” in the upper back.

The king’s half-brother Prince Salman, 77, is next in line to the throne. He was named crown prince in June 2012 following the death of Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz.

Prince Salman has been representing the king at most public events, including the latest Gulf summit in Qatar last month.

The king’s latest hospitalisation comes as Saudi Arabia holds a high-profile position in the US-led fight against the extremist group ISIL, which has seized swathes of neighbouring Iraq and Syria.

Saudi warplanes have joined in coalition airstrikes against the militants in Syria.

Since the death in 1952 of King Abdul Aziz Al Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, the throne has systematically passed from one of his sons to another, brothers and half-brothers.

But many of King Abdul Aziz’s sons are old or have died. King Abdullah’s former crown princes Sultan and Nayef died in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

In March last year, King Abdullah named his half-brother Prince Muqrin as a second crown prince, in an unprecedented move.

Prince Muqrin is the youngest of King Abdul Aziz’s sons.

* Agence France-Presse