Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah dies age 91
"With great sadness and sorrow, we mourn as the Kuwaiti people, the Arab and Islamic nations, and the friendly people of the world, the death of the late His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of the State of Kuwait," Kuna reported, citing a palace statement.
Prior to the announcement of his death, Kuwait television channels cut all regular programming and broadcasted verses from the Quran, in a rare move that signals the forthcoming announcement of an important death.
The emir was widely regarded as the architect of modern Kuwait's foreign policy, which has been recently been praised in the Arab world with country's anti-normalisation stance and neutrality on many divisive regional issues.
In a Middle East replete with elderly rulers, Sheikh Sabah stood out for his efforts at pushing for diplomacy to resolve a bitter dispute between Qatar and other Arab nations that continues to this day.
His 2006 ascension in Kuwait, a staunch US ally since the American-led war that expelled occupying Iraqi troops, came after parliament voted unanimously to oust his predecessor, the ailing Sheikh Saad Al Abdullah Al Sabah, just nine days into his rule.
Yet as Kuwait’s ruling emir, he struggled with internal political disputes, the fallout of the 2011 Arab Spring protests and seesawing crude oil prices that chewed into a national budget providing cradle-to-grave subsidies.
"He represents the older generation of Gulf leaders who valued discretion and moderation and the importance of personal ties amongst fellow monarchs," said Kristin Diwan, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington who studies Kuwait.
"No question he has suffered from the lack of deference and respect shown by the younger and more brash young princes holding power today."
On July 23, Sheikh Sabah travelled to the US for medical treatment.
Prior to his departure, he authorised his half-brother the crown prince Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah to exercise some of his constitutional powers.
Sheikh Sabah is expected to be succeeded by the crown prince.