x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Saudi's King Abdullah undergoes medical tests

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah underwent more medical tests after feeling pain in the back and has been advised by doctors to rest.

RIYADH // Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah yesterday underwent more medical tests after feeling pain in the back and has been advised by doctors to rest, the state news agency SPA said. Saudi, on Tuesday, said doctors had ordered the king to rest because of a slipped disc.

However the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was to hold talks with the king today, state-owned media reported.

Mr Mubarak was to "visit Saudi Arabia for a few hours for talks with King Abdullah on regional issues," the leading government-owned daily Al Ahram said without elaborating.

It recalled that on Wednesday the 86-year-old president insisted he was "in good health" after suffering a slipped disc.

The king's health problems come while the crown prince, Sultan, also in his 80s, has been abroad for unspecified health treatment for much of the last two years. He left in August for what was described as a holiday in Morocco. Khaled al Dakhil, a Saudi political analyst based in Riyadh, said he saw no cause for alarm at present.

"I don't see anything alarming. There is no implication of a serious issue with his health," he said.

With both the king and crown prince indisposed, the interior minister Prince Nayef has featured heavily in state media over the past week. Prince Nayef was appointed second deputy prime minister in 2009 in a move which analysts say will avert a power vacuum in the event of serious health problems afflicting the king and crown prince. The veteran security chief, thought to be around 76, was in an ebullient mood when he met reporters in Mecca before the Haj pilgrimage last week and state media made a formal announcement that he would oversee the Haj in the king's place, receiving guests there in recent days.

On Wednesday, the king transferred control of the National Guard, an elite Bedouin corps that handles domestic security, to his son Mitab. Mitab was also named by the king as a minister of state and a member of the Council of Ministers.