The 84-year-old ruler of Saudi Arabia, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, was hospitalized in the capital of Riyadh and suffers from inflammation of the gallbladder, the state news agency SPA said on Monday.
The king, who has ruled the world's largest oil exporter and close ally of the United States since 2015, is undergoing medical examinations, the agency added, without giving details.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi postponed a planned visit to Saudi Arabia after the news, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said.
King Salman, the administrator of the holiest sites in Islam, was Saudi Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister for more than two and a half years from June 2012 before becoming king. He was also governor of the Riyadh region for more than 50 years.
The de facto ruler and next to the throne is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, commonly known as MbS, who has initiated reforms to change the kingdom's economy and end its "oil addiction".
The 34-year-old prince, who is popular with many young Saudis, has been praised at home for easing social restrictions in the conservative Muslim kingdom, giving women more rights, and committing to diversifying the economy.
For the king's followers, this boldness at home and abroad was a welcome change after decades of caution, stagnation and trembling.
State control of the media and crackdown on dissent in the kingdom make it difficult to gauge the extent of domestic enthusiasm.
The Crown Prince's reforms were accompanied by a cleanup of top royals and businessmen for corruption and a costly war in Yemen that unsettled some Western allies and investors.
His prestige also suffered a blow following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 by closely related Saudi security personnel.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)