King Fahd In Hospital for ‘Regular’ Checkup
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) _ King Fahd, the diabetic and overweight monarch of Saudi Arabia, is in the hospital for a medical checkup.
A short announcement by the Royal Court said today that Fahd has been admitted to the King Faisal Hospital in Riyadh for a ``regular″ examination. It did not say how long he’s been there or give any other details.
But diplomatic sources said Fahd was moved to a hospital following a new bout of arthritis, compounded by weight problems. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity.
Fahd was born in Riyadh in 1923, but the exact date of his birth is not known. He carries the official title of Custodian of the Holy Shrines _ a reference to Islam’s holiest sites at Mecca and Medina.
The Saudi monarch, a chain-smoker, has been struggling with arthritis for years. The chronic inflammation has weakened his knee joints, leaving him unable to walk without a cane.
In his case, the disease is aggravated by his weight. His physicians reportedly have considered knee cap replacements, but were discouraged because of diabetes from which he also suffers.
Last year, Fahd underwent gallbladder surgery in Saudi Arabia.
The June 1994 surgery was the last time the government released any news of Fahd’s health. But observers have noted that his public appearances have become less frequent, with senior royal princes replacing him at some official functions.
Fahd, in power since his brother, King Khaled, died in June 1982, rules the world’s largest oil-exporting country.
Under Fahd, the 8 million Saudi population turned into the United States’ closest Arab allies.
In 1990, Fahd invited a huge U.S.-led force to his rigidly Muslim kingdom to face down Saddam Hussein after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
According to Forbes magazine, Fahd is the world’s second-richest man after the Sultan of Brunei, commanding a personal fortune of $18 billion.
He has 12 palaces in Saudi Arabia and Europe, a $60 million yacht protected by Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and a private Boeing 747 jet.