Saturday, November 13, 2010

Praying for King Abdullah's Long and Healthy Life

By Siraj Wahab

Saudi Arabia's 86-year-old king is suffering from slipped disc and has been advised complete rest. He will not be overseeing the Haj this year which begins on Sunday, Nov. 14.

An official Royal Court statement released late on Friday night said: “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud is suffering from back problems which doctors diagnosed as a herniated disc. Doctors have advised him rest.”

According to doctors quoted by news agencies, the slipping or rupturing of one of the discs in the spine, a herniated disc, is not life-threatening and is usually treated by rest, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs.

There were concerns when the king failed to chair the Cabinet meeting on Monday. It was the king's younger brother, Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, who presided over the weekly session. At 76, Prince Naif is No. 3 in the royal hierarchy. The No. 2, 84-year-old Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, is also ostensibly not keeping well. He has been in Morocco since the end of August.

On Saturday, the king officially appointed Prince Naif to oversee the five-day Haj pilgrimage. King Abdullah became the sovereign in 2005 after the death of his brother King Fahd.

King Abdullah's popularity ratings continues to soar because of a series of path-breaking changes that he has helped usher in. He has restored Saudi Arabia's standing in the world after the severe battering it received in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Last week leading American business magazine Forbes ranked him as the third most powerful man in the world after Chinese President Hu Jintao and US President Barack Obama.

Saudi Arabia is currently experiencing a second oil boom and the kingdom has poured billions of dollars in infrastructural projects. Foreign investors too are lining up to have a piece of the pie. Saudi Arabia is among the few nations that came out unscathed after the recent global downturn.

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