Kuwait celebrates the 14-year anniversary of the ascendency of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on Wednesday as he continues his leadership of this nation and its people. It all started when His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad sworn in before the parliament as the 15th Amir and ruler of Kuwait amid huge support from the public and local officials.

Perhaps what came in His Highness the Amir’s speech to the nation last November, that he stressed to his people and his nation stability, when saying “I call upon my fellow citizens to be aware to interests of our dear nation, and protection of its security and stability, stand united against whoever tries to undermine national unity, stay away from assemblies that might deviate from their objectives and lead to chaos.”

The fourth child of late Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, his wisdom and intelligence stems from a decades-long commitment to serving in the social, political and diplomatic spheres following extensive travel and tutelage at Al-Mubarakiya School; Kuwait’s first formal educational establishment named after the late ruler, Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah.

His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad’s initial foray into public office came in 1954, when he was appointed member in the supreme executive committee tasked with the role of the regulation of government interests and bodies. A year later, he was handed the role of director of the department of social and labor affairs, where he was instrumental in several factors, namely regulating the relationship between employer and employee.

Upon the expansion of his role to include director of the publications department in 1957, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad demonstrated a commitment to reviving old books and manuscripts and tasked a committee with writing the first book detailing the history of Kuwait. Kuwaiti journalism, regarded one of the most transparent in the Middle East, continues to thrive thanks to His Highness the Amir, who was behind the publications’ law, which remains in use until this day, albeit some minor amendments. As Kuwait declared its independence in 1961, he was appointed member of the Kuwaiti constitution’s founding council. This was followed by his appointment in the first official cabinet, where he assumed the role of minister of guidance in 1962.

Only one year later, he began a journey as minister of foreign affairs, where he remained the top man responsible for delivering Kuwait’s diplomacy to the world for 40 years. On May 11, 1963, during the first year of Sheikh Sabah’s time in office as minister, Kuwait became a member of the United Nations.

Diplomatically, he was involved in Kuwait-hosted talks in 1966 between warring parties in Yemen, attended by representatives from Egypt and Saudi Arabia aimed at putting an end to the Yemeni civil war. When the relationship deteriorated between South and North Yemen, with both involved in border clashes, Sheikh Sabah visited the two countries (at the time) helping forge a peace agreement in 1972. He also successfully mediated an agreement of diplomatic principles between Oman and South Yemen, which was followed by a joint announcement of the resumption of diplomatic relations from Kuwait in 1984.

Throughout his tenure, the then minister assumed a balanced foreign policy that enabled Kuwait to overcome some difficult periods such as the Iraq-Iran War of 1980 and its repercussions on the internal and external security and stability of his country. He also forged a strong relationship with countries around the world, particularly the five permanent member nations of the United Nations Security Council.

These strong ties culminated in the emergence of a 35-nation coalition that helped liberate Kuwait from invasion by Iraq in 1991 as a result of a Security Council resolution that paved the way for a military offensive against the occupying forces. Alongside his role as foreign minister, His Highness Sheikh Sabah was handed numerous roles due to his wise policies and diplomatic proficiency, namely acting information minister (1971- 1975), deputy prime minister (1978), acting information minister (1982), deputy prime minister (1985-1992) and first deputy prime minister and foreign minister (1992). In 2001, he was tasked with forming the Kuwaiti cabinet in the place of the then Crown Prince and Prime Minister the late Amir Sheikh Saad Al- Abdallah Al-Sabah.

Two years later, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad became prime minister upon Amiri decree. It is during his time as prime minister that his ability to guide domestic policy came to light. The prime minister adopted a comprehensive development-based vision focused particularly on economic growth through support of the private sector and entrepreneurism amongst the youth. On the economic spectrum, a tour in Asia, including China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, at the head of a business delegation in 2004 resulted in the joint signature of 10 mega deals and projects. He remained premier until 2006 when a cabinet session passed a motion appointing him Amir of Kuwait.

Over the 13 years under his reign, Kuwait has witnessed huge development concentrated on a number of mega projects like Sabah Al-Ahmad Marine City – the first fully-developed by the private sector. His Highness the Amir made comments urging nationals to stand together in the face of challenges and threats, namely the June 2015 terrorist attack on Al-Sadeq Mosque, in which 26 people were martyred and resulted in the injury of 200 more. Shortly after the suicide attack, His Highness the Amir took it upon himself to visit the location in person unannounced, where he uttered the renowned paternal words: “Those are my children.” While leading thousands of Kuwaitis who came to attend the mass funerals for the victims, His Highness the Amir urged “the Kuwaiti family to stand together united through troubles and strife in tackling violence and fundamentalist rhetoric that aims to undermine the other.”

On the scale of his foreign policy, Kuwait over recent years had pioneering role in the global humanitarian field thanks to his wise policies. Kuwait hosted three pledging conferences for international governments and organizations, co-chaired a similar event in London and attended another European Union-organized event in Brussels. The Kuwait-hosted donors conferences raised a total of USD 7.5 billion from attending nations and organizations, while Kuwait handed out a total USD 1.6 billion across all five gatherings as support for the victims of the Syrian confl ict. The endeavors overseen by His Highness the Amir earned him the unprecedented title of ‘Humanitarian Leader’ and Kuwait, the title of ‘Humanitarian Centre,’ both granted by the United Nations.

In February 2018, Kuwait also hosted a pledging conference dedicated to efforts aimed at rebuilding cities and towns in Iraq reclaimed from the so-called Islamic State group. These efforts have been commended worldwide and have transformed from a unilateral effort to a global initiative, receiving the full backing of the United States and the European Union. In 2018, His Highness inaugurated a number of important projects in the country, such as Abdullah Al-Salem Cultural Center and the Kuwait Motor City, Al-Jahra Medical City and the new passenger terminal 4 at Kuwait International Airport and Jaber Al-Ahmad Hospital. In 2019, His Highness opened Sheikh Jaber Bridge, which is one of the most prominent mega projects in the country and the fourth longest sea bridge in the world. In terms of strengthening friendly relations and pushing diplomatic efforts, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad made an official visit to Iraq in June 2019, which is the first of its kind by a high-ranking Kuwaiti official to Baghdad since 1990, during which he launched a new era in the march of relations.

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