By Tareq Yusuf Al Shumaimry
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah issued an amiri decree on Thursday appointing economist, diplomat and politician Sheikh Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah as the new Prime Minister of Kuwait. The amiri order also tasks the new premier with forming a new cabinet lineup and submitting it to His Highness the Amir for approval and appointment.
Born on 10 October 1955, Al-Sabah is the fourth son of Sheikh Sabah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah, the 12th Amir of Kuwait who ruled from 1965 to 1977, and Nouriya Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the sister of the present Amir. His elder brother is Salem Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, who served as both Minister of Defense and Interior.
Mohammed Sabah Al Sabah obtained his bachelor’s degree in economics from Claremont McKenna College in the United States and went on to earn both a master’s degree and a PhD in economics and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University. His undergraduate thesis titled ‘Critical Analysis of Inflation in Kuwait’, won him the Salvatori Scholar Prize in 1978,
He was appointed in 1993 as the ambassador of Kuwait to the United States, where he served until 14 February 2001, at which point he became the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He held the position of Minister of Finance from January 2003 until July 2003. On 11 February 2006, he was appointed Deputy Prime Minister, continuing also as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He resigned from office on 18 October 2011 in line with his stance on corruption in public life. Since then he has stayed out of politics and returned to pursue academic interests at Oxford University. He is married to Feryal Duaij Al Salman Al Sabah and the couple has four children.
Appointment of the new premier has been welcomed by regional and international leaders and by all sections of Kuwait society. In an official message of congratulations the US State Department said it welcomed the appointment of Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah as Prime Minister of the State of Kuwait. Spokesperson for the US State Department, Matthew Miller said in a press statement that”Sheikh Mohammed Al-Sabah has a distinguished career in public service and has always supported the strategic partnership between the United States and the State of Kuwait, where he previously served as Kuwait’s ambassador to the United States and the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs.” He expressed the United States’ aspiration to deepen its partnership with Kuwait and the new Prime Minister “as we seek to achieve more stability and peace in the Middle East.”
For their part, members of the business community have extended full support to His Highness the Prime Minister on his appointment as the new premier. They pointed to his exceptional leadership qualities, his extensive experience within the country and abroad, his broad and diverse network of international relations, as well as his economic credentials and political acumen, as reasons for optimism on the future growth and development trajectory of Kuwait. They expressed hope that his sagacious leadership would produce the necessary conducive environment for economic innovation, visions, and ideas that contribute to sustainable development of the country.
Business leaders and economic experts anticipated that with his prowess to address financial concerns through practical capabilities and specialized expertise, the new premier would prioritize economic and financial development with an emphasis on enhanced private sector participation in the economy. They also hoped he would address the long pending fiscal challenges and rectify structural imbalances in the economy.
The appointment of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al Sabah as Prime Minister is expected to herald a new era of development and progress in the country and usher in greater prosperity for the people of Kuwait.