Rishi Sunak pays tribute as Kuwait emir Sheikh Nawaf dies aged 86

The Prime Minister paid tribute to ​​Kuwait’s leader Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, and his work to “promote stability in the Middle East”, after he died aged 86.

As the nation announced 40 days of mourning, naming the sheikh’s half-brother and crown prince, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, 83 as the successor to power, the Rishi Sunak offered his condolences.

Mr Sunak said: “I am saddened to hear of the death of His Highness the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah.

“His Highness was a great friend of the UK and we will remember fondly all he did for our bilateral relationship and his work to promote stability in the Middle East.

“I offer my sincere condolences to the Al Sabah family and people of Kuwait.”

Before regular programming was cut, a statement aired on national TV saying: “With great sadness and sorrow, we mourn… the death of Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah”

The country, which borders Iraq and Saudi Arabia, will close its government offices for three days.

In late November, Sheikh Nawaf was rushed to hospital for an unspecified illness, since then the tiny country had been waiting for news about his health.

State-run news previously reported that he travelled to the United States for unspecified medical checks in March 2021.

The late Sheikh Nawaf had previously served as defence minister when Iraq invaded the country in 1990.

Later moving on to the role of interior minister, he was named crown prince in 2006 and came into power as emir in 2020.

As the sixth most oil-rich territory in the world, Kuwait is a major US ally, with a population of 4.8 million, whose government constitutes the most powerful ruling body in the region.

In Kuwait, the ruling family still controls the central government and the emir has the power to override any political matters and dissolve parliament.