The emir was admitted to London’s Cromwell Hospital in September for treatment after suffering what has been described as a mild stroke. It is understood that he has now left hospital and is convalescing in London in preparation for his return to Kuwait. Diplomats say he is expected to go home in late December or early January. It is thought unlikely that he will attend the GCC summit scheduled to be held in Muscat on 29-30 December.

In Sheikh Jaber’s absence, Prime Minister and Crown Prince Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah has taken on the role of acting emir. This has left the job of acting prime minister to be taken on by First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah. The emir’s return would require Sheikh Saad and Sheikh Sabah to reassume their previous positions. However, diplomats say Sheikh Saad is in poor health, and it may be difficult for him to perform all the functions required of the prime minister, notably presenting the government’s programme to the National Assembly (parliament).