Kuwait on Wednesday swore in its new emir, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, and prepared to receive the body of his half-brother, the late ruler Sheikh Sabah who died in the US at the age of 91.
“The precious confidence that the people of Kuwait have entrusted in us will be guarded with our lives,” the 83-year-old said after taking the oath of office.
He pledged to “serve the nation” in the address before lawmakers, who sat socially distanced and in masks, in line with coronavirus precautions.
The remains of Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah are expected to arrive in Kuwait City later Wednesday, on a flight from Minnesota where he had been undergoing treatment in hospital since July.
According to the royal court, the funeral will be “restricted to the emir’s relatives” — a move likely designed to avoid large crowds amid the coronavirus pandemic. The country has already begun a 40-day period of national mourning.
Sheikh Sabah earned a reputation as a shrewd, unshakeable leader who helped steer his country through the 1990 Iraqi invasion, crashes in global oil markets and upheavals in parliament and on the streets.
World leaders and Kuwaitis alike have hailed the legacy of the late emir, architect of the nation’s modern foreign policy and mediator in some of the worst crises to grip the Gulf.
“This man was the safety valve of the Arab world, not just for Kuwait,” Bandar al-Dahani, a Kuwaiti citizen, told AFP.
“God willing, that goodness will be in Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf and he will follow the emir’s path.”