x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

King Abdullah on his way home to Saudi Arabia

King Abdullah, who was seen off at Casablanca airport by the speaker of the Moroccan parliament, was to receive a royal welcome on his return to Riyadh where the streets have already been decorated with national flags.

Saudi Arabian flags flutter above pictures of King Abdullah that decorate a street in the capital Riyadh.
Saudi Arabian flags flutter above pictures of King Abdullah that decorate a street in the capital Riyadh.

CASABLANCA // Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah flew out of Morocco today and headed home to Riyadh after recovering from back surgery, an official source said.

King Abdullah, who was seen off at Casablanca airport by the speaker of the Moroccan parliament, was to receive a royal welcome on his return to Riyadh where the streets have already been decorated with national flags.

The monarch's health has been the subject of intense speculation and the Saudi Embassy in Morocco had to issue a denial earlier this month that the king had died following a widely circulated report on the internet.

King Abdullah arrived in Morocco on January 22 after surgery on his back in the United States and will return home to a Middle East rocked by anti-regime uprisings.

In his absence, in Egypt mass street protests led to the ousting of the country's president, Hosni Mubarak, Saudi Arabia's close ally, whom the king has backed in a phone call from Morocco.

Before Mr Mubarak's ouster on February 11, Tunisia's strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia's Red Sea city of Jeddah after protests toppled his regime in mid-January.