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His Highness the Amir — Kuwait’s visionary leader
February 23, 2017, 10:33 am

The name of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah is inextricably linked to that of modern Kuwait and its progressive vision for the future. Even before the country became an independent nation in 1961, His Highness was active in formulating plans and strategies for the country’s development.

Immediately after completing his studies, he joined the country’s policy making bodies, first as a member of the Building and Construction Council and then as a member of the organizational body of the Higher Council. In 1955, he headed the country’s Press and Publication Department, which played a lead role in highlighting the then Amir Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Al Sabah’s plans and vision for a modern Kuwait.

On 19 June, 1961, when Kuwait finally emerged as a fully independent nation after more than six decades of being a protectorate of the British Empire, His Highness was right there at the forefront of the leadership in charting the country’s future and fortunes.

In 1962, he was appointed as the Minister of Guidance and Information and a year later in January 1963 he was designated the country’s foreign minister. His Highness continued to hold the post of foreign minister in all subsequent governments until April 1991, making him then the longest serving foreign minister not only of Kuwait and the region, but around the world.

The experience and expertise in diplomacy gained by His Highness over a career spanning four decades were to stand the country in good stead during the dark days of the Iraqi occupation in 1990-91. Leveraging his close contacts and interactions with global leaders, His Highness was able to bring the full force of international diplomacy at the United Nations in favor of Kuwait and its righteous stand against the illegal occupation by Iraq.

Over the seven-month period of Iraqi occupation, His Highness’ experience as a doyen of diplomacy was brought to the forefront in support of the country’s just demands at the United Nations.
He not only managed to skillfully maneuver 12 resolutions through the UN Security Council calling on Iraq to end its unlawful occupation, but also received unanimous support from the world body for resolution 678 that gave Iraq an ultimatum to withdraw all forces from Kuwait by 15 January, 1991.

Following liberation of the country in February 1991, and the return of Kuwait’s legitimate government, His Highness continued to work with the UN and friendly countries around the world to stabilize, reconstruct and rehabilitate Kuwait, as well as set up the UN Iraq Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM) to monitor the border between the two countries.

In 2003, his 40 years as the country’s primary envoy was brought to a close when he was appointed through an Amiri decree as the country’s new prime minister.

During his nearly three years as prime minister, His Highness used his influence with world leaders and his standing in the United Nations, to compel Iraq to begin paying reparations for its wanton destruction of Kuwait during its criminal occupation. The Iraqi regime was also obliged to return stolen properties and to ensure the safe return of all Kuwaiti and third country nationals forcefully taken as prisoners from Kuwait.

On 29 January, 2006, His Highness was unanimously proclaimed as Amir of the State of Kuwait. Since becoming the Amir, His Highness has initiated a number of visionary steps designed to lead the country forward on a path of peace and progress. Despite numerous challenges, His Highness has proved on numerous occasions his prowess in handling domestic issues, as well as working to further Kuwait’s interests on the regional and international stage.

His Highness’ vision for Kuwait and its people is centered on development plans that aim to leverage regional and international opportunities to build the country’s economy and the progress of society.

 “Development and planning have the first national priority as they are a life necessity and the bases for building and securing the future of our sons and our future generations,” said His Highness.

In order to realize this vision and make Kuwait a regional center for commerce and finance, the government has been mandated to build necessary infrastructure through a mega-development plan and open up the economy by introducing necessary changes to policies and laws so as to facilitate businesses and entrepreneurship, as well as encourage foreign investments into the country.

On the international arena, His Highness was instrumental in further cementing Kuwait’s friendly relations with world nations. Among other cooperation and collaborations that he has initiated and played a vital role in founding, is the Common Ministerial Council for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and the European Union, which aims to consolidate and maximize economic ties between the two blocs.

His Highness, who has been a strong advocate of the importance and power of Arab unity, has often used the respect and trust he has gained over the years, to mediate and bring about reconciliation in Arab and regional conflicts.

He has consistently called for ending the Syrian conflict through diplomatic efforts that take into consideration the interests of all parties involved in the conflict. Most recently, His Highness was influential in bringing the warring factions in the Yemeni conflict for peace talks in Kuwait and for getting both sides to see that the conflict could only be resolved through dialogue and discussions.

Taking into consideration the suffering of the Syrian people who have been stranded in their own country and in neighboring countries due to the ongoing conflict, His Highness initiated and hosted three Syrian donors’ conferences in Kuwait and attended the fourth pledging conference in London in 2016. At these four conferences, the world witnessed the generosity of Kuwait when His Highness pledged billion of dollars in humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of Syrian refugees around the world.

Since His Highness assumed power in 2006, Kuwait's humanitarian aid to the world has soared with aid and relief supplies reaching almost all corners of the world devastated by natural and man-made catastrophes.

His Highness’ credentials as a humanitarian leader and Kuwait’s generosity in providing assistance to those in need around the world were further burnished in 2014, when the then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that Kuwait has turned into "an international humanitarian center" and its Amir is the "humanitarian leader".

Delivering his statement on the occasion of being felicitated by the United Nations for his role in and support of international humanitarian work, in New York on September 2014, H.H. the Amir expressed, “appreciation for the gracious and unprecedented gesture towards the people and government of my country Kuwait, and towards me personally.”

He pointed out that since gaining its independence and consequent membership in the UN, the State of Kuwait has followed a steady approach in its foreign policy, based essentially on providing humanitarian assistance to all needy countries, regardless of their geographic location, religious beliefs or ethnic origins.

In conclusion, His Highness said, “I also would like to renew the commitment of the State of Kuwait to the United Nations and its noble message of the preservation of international peace and security, the dissemination of the principals of justice and equality, and ensuring a life of dignity and welfare to the peoples of the world.”

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