A Saudi journalist and a member of the royal family are denying rumors that King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, in hospital since December suffering from pneumonia, has died, according to messages on social media.
Markets keep a close eye on the health of the king of the world’s top oil producer, a country that also has influence over Muslims through its guardianship of Islam’s holiest sites.
King Abdullah, who took power in 2005 after the death of his half-brother King Fahd, is thought to be 91, although official accounts are unclear. He has undergone surgery in the past few years related to a herniated disc.
“All that is being reported about King Abdullah’s death is far from the truth,” Ibrahem al-Rawsa, identified as a journalist at state-run Saudi Press Agency, wrote on his Twitter account on Thursday (local time).
A member of the royal family wrote: “I give you good news. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is fine and there is no truth to the rumours going around.”
He was referring to King Abdullah’s official title.
King Abdullah was admitted to the King Abdulaziz Medical City of the National Guard in Riyadh in December to undergo medical tests, according to state media.
The royal court earlier this month said that the king was suffering from pneumonia and had temporarily needed help to breathe through a tube, but that the procedure was successful.
State media have since repeatedly reported on members of the royal family visiting the hospital to gain reassurance about his health.