Saudi Arabiaâ€™s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has failed to attend a weekly meeting of the countryâ€™s cabinet ministers, fuelling speculation about his true health condition and the kingdomâ€™s political future.
In the absence of the king, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, the second deputy prime minister, chaired Mondayâ€™s meeting of the Saudi Council of Ministers.
The council consists of the prime minister, the first and the second deputy prime ministers, and 22 ministers. King Abdullah is the prime minister of the kingdom.
The 89-year-oldâ€™s health has declined over the past few years and he has been hospitalized several times.
In May, a Saudi journalist working for the London-based Asharq Alawsat said that King Abdullahâ€™s vital organs, including his heart, kidneys, and lungs, have almost stopped functioning.
The monarch has not recently appeared in the public and the country’s crown prince is attending official meetings on his behalf.
Advanced age and failing health as well as the deaths of the kingâ€™s half-brothers have raised concerns about the future of the oil-rich country in the face of the ongoing domestic anti-government demonstrations against the kingdomâ€™s suppressive policies towards the people.