Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Salman delivered an annual televised speech on Tuesday that has traditionally been given by the 90-year-old King Abdullah, who is in the hospital after being diagnosed with pneumonia over the weekend.
The 79-year-old crown prince has increasingly presided over meetings at home and abroad in lieu of the monarch. However, Abdullah, who has outlived two other half-brothers who held the crown prince post, is still the kingdom's top decision maker. He holds absolute power to enact laws and appoint ministers.
Saudi state TV carried the short speech, which was given last year by the king to the country's consultative Shura Council. Salman spoke briefly about security challenges facing the region and the slide in global oil prices.
"Today, as you know, your country is facing unprecedented regional challenges," he said, adding that civil wars and sectarian conflict require the kingdom to remain vigilant and cautious. Salman also said that the kingdom will continue to act in its people's best interests when dealing with the current drop in global oil prices.
The king was taken to a hospital last week after experiencing shortness of breath. Medical tests showed he had pneumonia. The king temporarily required the insertion of a breathing tube over the weekend, the Saudi Royal Court said.
The Speaker of the Shura Council, Abdullah al-Sheikh, said in his opening remarks that the king's medical procedure had been successful.
The official Saudi Press Agency reported that during Monday's cabinet meeting, the crown prince also assured ministers about Abdullah's health. He visited the hospital that evening in the capital Riyadh where the king is being treated to check on his health.