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Kuwait-Malaysia relations on the right path: Asousi
November 25, 2017, 3:54 pm
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Ambassador Asousi

Kuwait and Malaysia enjoy excellent relations in all spheres of activity revealed Kuwait’s ambassador to Malaysia, H.E. Saad Al Asousi, in an exclusive interview with The Times, Kuwait at his office in Kuala Lumpur recently.

“Our age-old relations are both historic and excellent and on the right path as we are among the first Arab nations to open an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and likewise Malaysia opened their first embassy in the region in Kuwait,” disclosed the ambassador.

A well-seasoned diplomat with over 22 years of experience, Ambassador Asousi has served in Nigeria, Greece, Pakistan, UAE and Iran, prior to taking up his assignment in Kuala Lumpur. He has established an excellent rapport with his hosts, calling them wonderful, hospitable and peaceful people.

Kuwait’s young and energetic ambassador just recently also became the Dean of Arab Ambassadors in Malaysia, having completed his fourth year in the country. As the new dean for Arab diplomats, Ambassador Asousi is playing an increased role in coordinating and dealing with the Malaysian government and other Arab diplomats. He has used this opportunity to further cement ties and establish relationships with various diplomats and foreign ministry officials in Malaysia.

Ambassador Asousi with family

Since taking over in 2013, Ambassador Asousi has given a new impetus to bring Kuwait and Malaysia closer through several innovative initiatives, especially in the cultural field. On the political front there have been many bilateral visits, including the visits of two Sultans from Malaysia to Kuwait, as well as a parliamentary delegation visit from Malaysia to Kuwait last February. In addition, the Malaysian foreign minister has also paid an official visit to Kuwait. Other bilateral visits in the pipeline include invitations for the Prime Minister of Kuwait, and Speaker of the National Assembly, to visit Malaysia. Kuwait has also extended an invitation for the Prime Minister of Malaysia to visit Kuwait next year. So political relations have been both vibrant and dynamic, said the ambassador.

However on the economic front, trade between the two countries has remained stagnant due to a number of reasons. Among the issues Ambassador Asousi pointed out was the re-export of Malaysian goods to Kuwait through Jebel Ali port, which saw direct trade dealings drop significantly. Increased competition from neighboring countries like China and Indonesia has also led to importers from Kuwait opting to buy their products. The recent move by Malaysia to stop the import of LPG from Kuwait has also drastically reduced bilateral trade.

“I have also noticed that Malaysia has not participated in trade exhibitions or been active in promoting their products through delegations since a few years,” Ambassador Asousi pointed out. Kuwait has become an extremely competitive and price sensitive market, hence Malaysian businesses should promote their products assertively to ensure their market share, said the envoy.

Ambassador Asousi has used innovative methods in engaging with the local populace, including by holding cultural diwaniyas. These popular diwaniyas have been able to showcase Kuwait’s rich heritage and culture, and encourage people to people diplomacy. Through these interactions he has been able to bring greater understanding of  Kuwaiti food, weddings, fashion, lifestyle and various aspects of Kuwaiti society that have made a great impression among the locals. Some of the prominent dignitaries visiting the cultural diwaniyas include the Queen of Malaysia, the former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohammed, wives of diplomats and prominent women from Malaysian society.

“We have a lot of Kuwaiti delegations visiting Malaysia; for the third consecutive year we are participating in the Putra Jaya International Festival, an Islamic culture event. There are also several Kuwaiti students studying in Malaysia which has an advanced education system,” the ambassador revealed.

Regarding tourism, Ambassador Asousi was glad that a media and tourism delegation from Kuwait visited Malaysia after a gap of many years. “I have been actively canvassing the great potential of tourism in Malaysia, and moreover, Kuwaitis get visa on arrival. And, though a lot of Kuwaiti tourists do visit Malaysia regularly, there is great potential to increase this tourism traffic as Malaysia is a favored destination with activities for the entire family,” the ambassador noted.

However a lot more should be done by way of promoting tourism such as through road shows, better connectivity of flights and competitive rates to encourage tourism. Kuwaitis are well known for their travel and are always keen on new and popular destinations and Malaysia can provide an excellent holiday destination for Kuwaitis.

He is a strong believer that diplomacy should not be restricted to political, economic and culture sectors, but should also encompass building relationships and friendships, and learning about each other’s country. The many interactions and connections that Ambassador Asousi has built during his tenure in Malaysia, has made him a popular diplomat and a true ambassador of Kuwait.

By Reaven D’Souza
Managing Editor

 

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