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Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah dies at 91

Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah had been receiving medical treament in the United States
Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah waves upon his arrival to open the parliament's new term at the Gulf emirate's National Assembly in Kuwait City (AFP)

Kuwait on Tuesday confirmed the death of Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who was 91.

An official statement read out on state television said Sheikh Sabah had died.

He had been in hospital in the United States since July following surgery for an unspecified condition in Kuwait that same month.

Earlier, Kuwait television had interrupted regular programming to cut to Quranic verses, a move which often signifies the death of a senior member of the Gulf Arab state's ruling family.

Sheikh Sabah's 83-year-old half-brother, Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah, has been named as his successor.

Regional leaders offered condolences for the emir's passing.

"Our sincere condolences go to the Al-Sabah family and the people of Kuwait," tweeted Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed Bin Zayed. "Sheikh Sabah epitomised wisdom, tolerance, and peace and he was a great pioneer of Gulf cooperation. He served Kuwait with honour and grace, and his work will never be forgotten. May God have mercy on him."

Jordan's King Abdullah announced 40 days of mourning in the country in the wake of Sabah's death.

The emir's body will arrive in Kuwait from the US on Wednesday, state TV reported on Tuesday, citing the Amiri Diwan.