Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has undergone a successful back operation at a hospital in Riyadh, the royal cabinet said in a statement on Sunday.
The king, who is believed to be in his late 80s, underwent an operation to correct “a ligamentary slackening in the upper back” the Saudi Press Agency said, adding that the procedure was “successfully” completed at 03.15 Sunday.
King Abdullah, who took power in 2005 following the death of King Fahd, underwent a similar operation in October last year and underwent two surgeries on his back in the United States in 2010.
The king’s age and his frequent hospitalisations regularly prompt rumours about the future leadership of the Gulf state, which holds more than one fifth of the world’s crude reserves and is a key US ally in the region.
Unlike Western monarchies, Saudi Arabia’s line of succession moves down the line of brothers born to the kingdom’s founder King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud and not from father to eldest son.
The king’s half brother Prince Salman was named heir apparent in June following the death of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz. Prince Salman was temporarily placed in charge during King Abdullah’s vacation in Morocco earlier this year.