Kuwait has been thrown into a state of mourning and gloom after the death of the country’s Emir, Sheik Sabah Al-Jaber A-Sabah, was announced on Tuesday. The Emir was crowned in 2006 after serving as the country’s foreign minister for almost four decades, and later the Prime Minister of the country. Late Sheik Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah was also instrumental in the effort to end the Qatar-GCC crises. The Sheik has been described by many as “the voice of wisdom”.
The Sheik struggled with health problems for some time before his eventual death. Sabah was respected within and outside Kuwait for his role in the Gulf Cooperation Council as an arbitrator who believed that all Gulf Nations have to be united. He was able to raise the vows of millions of dollars for Syria through several donation conferences that he led, Al Jazeera reported.
“Kuwait, the entire Arab and Muslim population and the world mourn the passing of a true leader,” said Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah, the Minister of Royal Court Affairs in Kuwait. “We all offer our heartfelt condolences and pray that God forgives his shortcomings.”
The late monarch, who was a member of the royal family in Kuwait, traveled to the United States on August 6 for treatment after he had surgery. The medical condition that led to the surgery was not publicized. Many dignitaries from all over the world have stated that monarch’s death is a great loss. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his sadness at the death and stated that the late monarch was a true ambassador of peace and one of those who rally for help for countries and regions in need.
The Saudi royal family and the US Embassy in Kuwait have also mourned the monarch’s death in tweets and on the news. The Embassy said in a tweet that the achievements of the late monarch will always be remembered.
“The Saudi King and Crown Prince are saddened by the news of the death of His Royal Highness, Sheik Al-Sabah,” reported SPA Saudi state news agency.
Other rulers such as the Jordan monarch, the President of Egypt, and the President of Lebanon have also reacted to the death of the sheik. Jordan reportedly declared 40 days of mourning for the loss. Sabah has been heralded as “a great leader” and an embodiment of courage, restraint, and good judgment
The death announcement comes at a most inappropriate time for Kuwait since the country and the rest of the Gulf region are still battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 103,981 people have reportedly contracted the disease in Kuwait. The country that relies largely on its oil income is also reeling from low oil prices. The country is suffering from a budget deficit of $46 billion. Deutsch Bank speculates that the Kuwaiti economy will shrink by at least 7.8% this year.
“We are handling a big challenge in trying to protect our economy from the effects of the pandemic especially the sudden drop in the price of oil and investments”, the late monarch told KUNA, Kuwaiti state news agency, before his death.
Clemens Chay, a researcher at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute said the death of the monarch following the death of Qaboos bin Said Al-Said of Oman in January signifies the end of old leadership in the Gulf region. The former Crown Prince of Kuwait and half brother of the late monarch, 83-year-old Sheik Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah has been named as the new Emir of Kuwait by the Kuwaiti cabinet.