Kuwait sworn in its new emir, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah, to receive the body of his half brother, the late ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, who died in the United States at age 91.
The body of Sheikh Sabah, a well-known diplomat and mediator who ruled for 14 years, is expected to arrive in Kuwait on Wednesday. He died Tuesday in Minnesota, where he has been in hospital since July.
According to the royal court, burials will be restricted to relatives of the emir, a possible move to avoid large crowds amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Kuwait’s new leader, 83-year-old heir to the throne, Sheikh Nawaf, was sworn in in a National Assembly session at around 8:00 am GMT. The Gulf State has begun a 40-day national mourning period for the Emir.
Sheikh Sabah has built a reputation as an outstanding leader who helped guide his country through the 1990 invasion of Iraq, the collapse of the global oil market, and riots in parliament and on the streets.
World and Kuwaiti leaders laud the legacy of the late Emir, an architect of the country’s modern foreign policy and mediator of some of the worst crises in the Persian Gulf.
Sheikh Nawaf, who has held the high offices for decades in Kuwait is now taking over as the country is facing the effects of the coronavirus crisis, which has resulted in a sharp drop in oil prices and serious economic consequences for Gulf countries.
The senior statesman, who preceded him as heir apparent in 2006, was minister of defense when Iraqi forces invaded the oil-rich emirate in 1990 and a minister of the interior who faced challenges from armed groups.
The new leader is popular with the ruling al-Sabah family and is believed to have become a consensus for a ruler. He also enjoys a reputation for humility and remains unobtrusive.