Sabah has battled health issues in recent years and is widely respected for working to mediate conflict in the region. When a political rift led to an embargo of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, Sabah tried unsuccessfully to broker a resolution.
He also led donor conferences for Syria that led to pledges of hundreds of millions of dollars.
“With sincere sadness, Kuwait, its people, the people of the Arab and Muslim world, and the people of the world offer their condolences for the death of Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, may God forgive him,” said Minister of Royal Court Affairs Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah on state TV.
Sabah was born in 1929 around the time of the formation of the modern Kuwaiti state, and is a member of the country’s royal family. For 40 years, he served as foreign minister, later becoming prime minister before he was named the country’s monarch.
On August 6, the Emir traveled to the United States for medical treatment after he underwent surgery that his office described as successful. Officials did not disclose his condition.
Several countries and leaders paid tribute to Sabah following the news of his death.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply moved” by the emir’s passing.
Guterres said he was an extraordinary symbol of “wisdom and generosity,” a messenger of peace and a bridge builder.
The Secretary-General added that Sabah was always in the “first line of mobilizing the international community in acts of solidarity with those in need.”
“We wish only to mention the achievements of His Highness the late Emir who dedicated his life to bringing peace and stability to the region,” the US Embassy in Kuwait said in a tweet.
In the region, Saudi Arabia’s King and Crown Prince also mourned the emir’s death in a statement, according to state media.
“Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman received with great sadness and great sorrow the news of the death of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah,” Saudi state news agency SPA reported.
Jordan has declared 40 days of mourning. “Today we lost a great brother and a wise leader who loves Jordan,” the Jordanian monarch, King Abdullah, tweeted. “(He) did not hesitate in his benevolent endeavors to make every effort to unite the Arab ranks.”
A spokesman for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also issued a statement eulogizing the Kuwaiti head of state and calling him “a great leader.”
Lebanese President Michel Aoun also hailed the Emir as a “great brother to Lebanon, and an example of chivalry, moderation and wisdom.”