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Dutch-Kuwaiti Diwaniya - A unique initiative to promote academic, cultural relations
February 22, 2018, 3:21 pm

Kuwait and the Netherlands launched this week a unique project called 'Diwaniya' (gathering hall) to promote cultural and academic relations and to build people-to-people contacts between the two countries. A group of eight students from Kuwait and eight from the Netherlands are holding three-days of intensive meetings and discussions in the Netherlands to give flesh to this new project. Counsellor at the Kuwait Embassy at the Hague Ali Al-Thaeidi noted that this project comes at a crucial time when both Kuwait and the Netherlands hold the non-permanent seats in the UN Security Council.

He told KUNA that the students discussed important issues facing the world such as energy, climate, terrorism and youth, and the joint-cooperation between the two countries in the Security Council to contribute effectively to the international community's engagement with these issues.

It is the first time in which students who hold no official status are in in discussion on how to strengthen the relationship between the two countries bilaterally and internationally, said Al-Thaeidi. In Kuwait, Diwaniya has been held for over 200 years contributing to the country's political structure and parliamentary system. In the Diwaniya a broad scale of issues can be discussed and hence they found it an inspiring way to further strengthen the Dutch-Kuwaiti-relations. On his part, Abdullah Al-Yahya, secretary of board of directors and head of the finance and information technology in Kuwait's foreign ministry who is heading the Kuwaiti delegation said the proposal came from the Dutch foreign ministry one year ago.

"Choosing the name Diwaniya was very interesting. We accepted the proposal immediately," he told KUNA. Eight undergraduate university students in Kuwait were chosen for the project and they were given six months to prepare. He noted that it is the first time that such a Diwaniya project was held and Kuwait has proposed to hold the second Diwaniya with the Netherlands in Kuwait next year.

Al-Yaha stressed that he was "very impressed" by the performance of the Kuwaiti students. The first day of the Diwaniya held at the residency of Counsellor Al Thaeidi on Monday February 19 was devoted to issue like the International Humanitarian Law and the water-energy-food nexus.

The second day was devoted to lectures by Dutch diplomats at the Dutch Foreign Ministry followed by a museum tour and participation at the Kuwait national day reception. Today Wednesday includes a tour and briefing at the Netherlands Institute of international relations and of UNESCO and the Dutch institute for water education in the city of Delft.

The Kuwait news agency spoke to a number of Dutch and Kuwait students at the sidelines of the National Day Reception Tuesday evening. Hamad Al-Mutairi said all eight of them were from the American University in Kuwait and all of them were specializing in international relations.
"Our experience from this project is very positive," he said.

Ali Al-Qallaf said the project is "very interesting and very informative. It is like an academic exchange between us and with the Netherlands. We were introduced to the Dutch culture and we introduced them to the Kuwaiti culture." Ali Al-Khuraibat said the project is an "interesting collaboration and a very unique opportunity." Fatima Al-Mazyad said that "it was a very nice experience. We engaged in a lot of cultural exchange." "We were both on the same page when it came to international humanitarian law and protection of civilians. We all believed in one vision," and added that after completing her studies she would like to become a diplomat to represent Kuwait.

Dutch student Menk Vierdag who studies at the Leiden University is doing his masters in international relations. He said he found the Diwaniya project very interesting and it gave them an opportunity to discuss food energy and human rights.

"It was very interesting to see the perspective from the Kuwaiti side. It was a very fruitful interaction," said Vierdag. Emilie de Haes also from the Leiden University specializing in political economy said her experience "was very good." "The Diwaniya setting was very comfortable. It was a nice way of debating with the young students from Kuwait who shared the same interests," she said.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General of the Dutch Foreign Ministry, Mrs. Yoka Brandt, chatted with the Kuwaiti and the Dutch students during the National Day reception last evening. She said that the Diwaniya project aims "to learn from each other's culture and build cross-border friendship." Ali Al-Thaeidi expressed his thanks and appreciation to the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs represented by the Saud Al-Nasser Diplomatic Institute for adopting this idea and supporting it.

He stressed the desire of the Dutch and Kuwaiti sides to raise the level of the distinguished relations between the two friendly countries. 

Source: KUNA

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