The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Salim Al-Sabah, has died of a heart attack aged 62.
The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Salim Al-Sabah, has died of a heart attack aged 62. He's been succeeded by his cousin, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah.
SYNOPSIS: Sheikh Sabah ruled the oil-rich state for 12 years; a period which saw the consolidation of Kuwait's oil production to conserve resources for the future. During this time, the Emir established one of the world's most comprehensive welfare states, with free medical care and education.
But with oil production running at about two million barrels a day the friendship of Kuwait is important to other states, and the Emir received hundreds of foreign visitors each year.
Although maintaining a policy of non-alignment, Sheikh Sabah sent a token force from Kuwait to Egypt and Syria in the last two Arab-Israel Wars. In this 1974 film, the Emir welcomes the men back, and awards medals to officers and relatives of the men who had been killed in the conflict.
Kuwait's support of her Arab neighbours more often comes in the form of economic aid, and on this trip to the sudan, the Sheikh promised President Ja'afar Al-Nimeiry a million U.S. dollars to help finance agricultural development.
The Emir worked long hours at his desk each day when in Kuwait, but he usually spent up to a third of the year abroad. While in France in 1975, Sheikh Sabah worked through a shopping list. He asked president Valery Giscard d'Estaing to provide aircraft, tanks and weapons for Kuwait's armed forces.
The Sheikh was also in London last year (1977). He'd flown in to visit king Khalid of Saudi Arabia at the Wellington Hospital, where the King was staying for medical treatment.
The two statesmen discussed a wide range of subjects including international affairs, and the prospects for peace in the Middle East. The hospital suits took on the air of an embassy conference room as high ranking officials gathered for the meeting. The Sheikh and the King also spent some time discussing aid to African nations. It was just one indication of the Emir's standing in Arab politics.
The death of Sheikh Sabah is not expected to herald a shift in Kuwait's political or economic policy. The Emir had a long history of heart trouble, and because of failing health he delegated increasing responsibility to his successor, Sheikh Jaber. The new Emir has had a thorough introduction to his duties.
As Prime Minister of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber, in recent times became the effective ruler, dealing with delegations from oil producing nations and meeting visiting heads of State. The transfer of power came quickly after the death of Sheikh Sabah, with the Cabinet invoking Constitutional Law and declaring Sheikh Jaber the new Emir. There's to be 40 days of mourning in Kuwait for Sheikh Sabah.