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Kuwait, Turkiye ties .. Six decades of fruitful cooperation

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabahآ‘s visit to Turkiye on Tuesday, the first since assuming the leadership post, is another milestone added to the six decades of fruitful ties.

The visit also comes to celebrate the 60th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties. The strength of ties between Kuwait and Turkiye expanded beyond the political realm, reaching high peaks in various domains such as investments and the economy to name but a few.

Kuwait opened its first embassy in Ankara in 1971, a step followed by the opening of the Turkish embassy in Kuwait in the same year. Relations continued to solidify throughout the years since then and they were put to the test during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, an event that was met by strong Turkish condemnation and opposition.

In 1991, then Amir the late Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah visited Ankara post-Iraqi invasion in a display of gratitude towards the Turkish stance with Kuwait during its darkest times.

Kuwait returned in favor in July 2016 when the Kuwaiti government stood in solidarity with its Turkish counterpart during the failed coup. Then Amir the late Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, expressing his support to the Turkish leader and the will of the Turkish people.

During the history of relations, major visits occurred between leaders and top figures. In 2008, the late Amir Sheikh Sabah visited Turkiye, resulting in the signing of seven agreements to boost relations in various domains.

A second visit to the Amir Sheikh Sabah occurred in April 2013 with eight bilateral agreements signed during the visit. In between 2008 and 2014, several ministers from Kuwait and Turkiye exchanged visits a plethora of agreements on the military, security, and several other prominent fields.

In 2009, the late Amir Sheikh Sabah headed Kuwaitآ‘s delegation to the 25th OIC Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC), which was held in Istanbul.

The late Sheikh Sabah also headed Kuwaitآ‘s delegation to the 13th OIC Summit in Istanbul in April 2016 and the international summit for humanitarian work, which was held also in Istanbul in May of the same year.

The late Amir Sheikh Sabah also headed Kuwaitآ‘s delegation to the urgent summit for the OIC, dubbed the Al-Quds (Jerusalem) summit, which was held in Istanbul in 2017.

On the Turkish, former President of Turkiye Abdullah Gul visited Kuwait on three separate occasions in 2009, 2011, and 2014 as part of the continuous efforts on the part of the two countries to bolster ties. Turkish President Erdogan visited Kuwait on two occasions in 2015 and 2017 to boost relations and also play a part in the mediation efforts to resolve the Gulf relations crisis.

In 2017, President Erdogan bestowed on visiting late Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber AlSabah the Order of State award for his role in bolstering relations and his global humanitarian efforts and response. In return, Sheikh Sahah bestowed on President Erdogan the order of Mubarak the Great for his regional and international efforts. Kuwaitآ‘s support for Turkiye went beyond the political domain.

In August of 2021, the late Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent Kuwaiti firefighters and equipment to help Turkiye fend off the forest fires, which engulfed parts of the country. In February 2023, the latter country faced a devastating earthquake.

The late Amir Sheikh Nawaf ordered the establishment of an air bridge to deliver humanitarian aid to those affected by the ginormous natural disaster. Kuwait donated USD 30 million to help relief aid efforts in Turkiye and Syria.

The total of government and popular donations reached USD 97.7 million. In the commercial domain, Kuwait exports to Turkiye in the third quarter of 2023 reached KD 13.5 million, while Turkish exports to Kuwait reached KD 169.2 million.

In 2016, the volume of commercial exchange reached USD 1.2 billion. In the same year, the number of projects executed by Turkish contracting companies in Kuwait reached USD 6.5 billion, while the volume of direct Kuwaiti investments in Turkish reached USD 1.7 billion.

In 2017, the number of companies with Kuwaiti capital in Turkiey reached 291 including 395 branch of the Kuveyt Turk Bank, which the Kuwait Finance House (KFH) bank has 62.24 percent of shares.

In regards to contributions by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), the fund provided Turkiye with KD 106 million in loans with the first in 1979 to finance a Bosphorus transmission line crossing worth USD 8.8 million.

In the humanitarian domain, the KFAED provided a USD 53 loan to rebuild the railway network for connecting housing units in the aftermath of the August 17, 1999 earthquake, which Marmara region and an additional USD 28.3 million was provided to help rehabilitate infrastructure in areas affected by the same earthquake.

In November 2014, the town of the “humanitarian leader”, the title UN bestowed by the UN on the late Amir Sheikh Sabah in 2014, was opened in eastern Turkiye in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in 2011 on instruction by the Kuwaiti leadership. The earthquake led to the death of 644 people, the injury of 4,152 others and the destruction of 2,262 housing units.

The “humanitarian leader” town was conducted in two stages to help the affected by swiftly housing people as well as constructing four apartment complexes housing 64 units serving over 80 families affected by the earthquake.

The Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad village for Syrian refugees was also established in southern Turkiye to house families fleeing from violence in Syria consisting of 1,248 houses in addition to schools, medical centers, mosques and other facilities.

It was officially opened in April of 2017.

Also the same year, Kuwait medical center for Prosthetics was opened in Istanbul to serve Syrian refugees. Kuwait contributed to easing the burden on the Turkish government, which hosted 3.5 million Syrian refugees hosting three donors conferences since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in 2011 as well as well as partaking in the 2016 conference in London in February of 2016 and discussing the plight of the Syrian refugees in the September 2016 leaders summit on the Syrian refugees situation held in New York. In the tourism domain, Turkiye exempted Kuwaitis from visas, a step which took effect on August 15, 2017.

This brought the number of Kuwaiti tourists by 2022 to 479,278 and 362,657 by 2023. The number of Kuwaitis residing in Turkiye reached 5,457 in 2023.

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