It has been 11 years since the late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah passed away; Kuwaitis still recall the deeds and achievements of the 'Amir of Hearts' who spent his life serving his country.
Sheikh Jaber, who passed away on 15 January, 2006 after being at the helm for 28 years, was the 13th ruler of Kuwait, and the third Amir during the state's constitutional era that began with the signing of the constitution on 11 November, 1962 by the late Amir Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah. Since he took over the reign in 1977, the late Amir, known to the people as "Abu Mubarak", led Kuwait to development and progress on all levels, gaining the country significant political and economic weight on the world arena.
He was very eager to establish balanced bilateral relations with the world. Though Abu Mubarak's years in office witnessed various hardships and major events, he managed through his wisdom and long political experience to overcome the crises and lead the country well.
Sheikh Jaber devoted most of his life to the nation and the Kuwaiti people, and survived a terrorist assassination attempt on 25 May, 1985. After the incident, Sheikh Jaber addressed the people, saying that despite the attempt on his life, "Kuwait will remain" and that was the "most important fact." For him, youth was the "renewable current in a river called Kuwait" and a source of power that will never dry up.
Based on this view, Kuwait youth were given remarkable attention and care. In 1992, the Public Authority for Youth and Sports was founded and entrusted with caring for the affairs of the Kuwaiti young people and promoting their physical and mental capabilities.
By the same token, Kuwaiti women were offered full support. In 1999, the late Amir issued a decree giving women citizens' full political support.
Kuwait, though a small country, continued to develop within the political and economic spheres until it was hit by another tragedy in 1990. Sheikh Jaber's long experience, sagacity, and relentless efforts to liberate his nation with aid from the international community garnered Kuwait its freedom.
Following the liberation, Kuwait carried on with the march of development thanks to a sagacious ruler and the support of the Kuwaiti people to their leadership.
On 19 June, 1991, the late Amir established the Martyrs' Bureau at the Amiri Diwan, to care for the families of Kuwaitis who were martyred during the brutal invasion.
On the political level, Sheikh Jaber was keen on bolstering efforts amongst nations of the Gulf, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was born of his wish to consolidate cooperation amongst the Arab nations in the region.
Through his belief that the GCC was a "beacon" of true solidarity amongst Arab nations, Sheikh Jaber always made it clear that developing the council's mechanism was paramount for the future of Gulf States. In the 1996 GCC Doha Summit, he proposed the formation of a 30-member consultative council to provide the GCC leadership with proposals likely to promote the process of decision making. Under the late Amir, Islamic causes were always given priority on Kuwait's agenda.
Sheikh Jaber established the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) that was launched on 31 December, 1961.
He was chairman of board of directors of this first institution in the Middle East that offered financial support to development efforts not only in the Arab world but in many other developing countries as well.
Also, in the capacity of Kuwait's Presidency of the Organization of Islamic Summit (OIC) - later Organization of Islamic Cooperation - Sheikh Jaber addressed the 43rd session of the UN General Assembly in the following year, proposing measures to ease the pressures on developing and underdeveloped states through the formation of a just world economic system. He then proposed dropping debts due on poor countries.
In 1995, 'The Amir of Hearts' was chosen as the humanitarian personality of the year in a poll conducted by a London-based media institution, amongst five million Arabs, in recognition of his philanthropic initiatives and efforts around the globe.