By Reaven D’Souza
Australian Ambassador to Kuwait H.E. Melissa Kelly plans to further strengthen the already strong bonds of friendship between the two countries and realize the full potential that lies in Australia’s relations with Kuwait.
In her first interview since taking charge of the embassy in Kuwait, the charming and graceful Ambassador Kelly spoke candidly to media persons on several dimensions of relations between the two countries.
She began by noting that Kuwait was her first ambassadorial posting, and that as the first Australian woman ambassador to Kuwait she was very pleased at the warm and friendly welcome she has received since her arrival in August last year.
Describing bilateral relations as warm and strong, the ambassador highlighted that the partnership in food security between Australia and Kuwait spans over 60 years. She added that during her tenure in Kuwait, she intended to focus on reducing barriers in the commercial sectors, improving relations between business people in both countries and encouraging new investment in Australia.
Speaking about bilateral investment cooperation centered on current and future goals, Ambassador Kelly stressed that there was enormous potential in boosting Australian-Kuwait bilateral ties in all domains to new levels.
Among her many priorities Ambassador Kelly said, she planned to develop cooperation in the field of climate technology and renewable energy, encourage more research cooperation in the field of technology, and support the continuity and development of the ongoing food security partnership.
On the issue of exports of Australian meat to Kuwait, the ambassador pointed out that in 2022, the Australian government decided to gradually stop exports of live sheep by sea to all countries. She explained that the Australian government had also announced this gradual abolition would however not occur in the current mandate of the government, whose term is scheduled to end in 2025.
She also noted that meat shipments to Kuwait are stopped every year during the summer due to the hot weather, and that this policy was being followed for a long time. Expressing her pride in the role played by Australia in ensuring food security of Kuwait over the past six decades, she added that continuing this aspect of security was important in the bilateral relations between the two countries.
The ambassador explained that the export of meat from her country was not limited to live livestock, but there was halal chilled meat among others that would continue to be available. She went on to note that the volume of trade exchange between the two countries amounted to about 800 million Australian dollars, most of which are from the export of meat, while the volume of Kuwaiti investments in Australia is about 12 billion Australian dollars.
Turning to women’s empowerment, Ambassador Kelly stressed on the high priority that Australia placed on gender equality and added that diversity in leadership makes for stronger teams. She further emphasized the strong impression Kuwait women made on her with their contributions to the country in various sectors.
Disclosing that Australia and Kuwait will celebrate their 50th anniversary of bilateral friendship next year, the ambassador said she plans to raise the cultural collaboration with a series of events and celebrations, including bringing the best Australian artists and creatives to Kuwait.
Pointing to the thriving education relationship she noted that almost 2,000 Kuwaitis have graduated from Australian Universities so far, and the number of students seeking admission was growing. At present there are almost 700 students studying in Australia.
Ambassador Kelly also pointed at the presence of a large number of Australian companies operating in Kuwait, the largest of which was Worley, which was engaged in the field of oil and gas, in addition to the presence of two Australian universities in Kuwait.
She also revealed that the number of the Australian citizens residing in Kuwait is about 800, most of whom are working in the fields of oil and gas, health and education.
On the defense relations between the two countries she noted that Australia and Kuwait enjoyed a close defense relationship supported by their participation in the coalition during the liberation of Kuwait in 1991.
Adding that both countries had a common commitment to strengthen regional security and cooperation, she stressed that “both countries are natural and reliable partners, and their warm relationships produce meaningful results for both.”