The ruling emir of Kuwait is dead. Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah died on Saturday at the age of 86, said a palace statement carried by Kuwaiti state television. Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah had been ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state for three years; he was sworn in in September 2020 after the death of his half-brother.
The ruling house's statement said that the announcement of the death came with "great sadness and pain." State television interrupted regular programming and broadcast recited verses from the Koran. According to the state news agency Kuna, Sheikh Nawaf was admitted to hospital in November due to an “emergency”.
Sheikh Nawaf was appointed crown prince in 2016 by his then-ruling half-brother Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. After taking office in September 2020, he led the country through an economic crisis caused by the collapse in oil prices. The current crown prince, Sheikh Mischal al-Ahmad al-Sabah, is also a half-brother of the now deceased sheikh. The government cabinet appointed the 83-year-old as the new head of state, the state news agency Kuna reported.
The small oil-rich state had previously announced the death of monarch Sheikh Nawaf, who had been receiving medical treatment since late November. Kuwait has the most active parliament in the region, which is granted slightly more influence over legislation than in neighboring countries. However, the actual power lies in the hands of the ruling family.
In 1962, the country was the first Arab Gulf state to introduce a parliamentary system; the popular representation in the country is more powerful than in any other Gulf state. Kuwaiti women have had the right to vote and stand for election since 2005. Recently, however, political disputes between elected representatives and palace-appointed ministers have led to political turbulence, which has also deterred foreign investors.