By Rabih Kallas
Special Report

H.E. Prof. Dr. George A. Said-Zammit
Ambassador of Malta

The Ambassador of Malta, H.E. Prof. Dr. George A. Said-Zammit, in a recent media interview to Al Jarida newspaper provided some valuable insights into the dynamic relationships between the Republic of Malta and the State of Kuwait, expressing his commitment to enhance the existing bilateral relations in various areas.

In his introductory words, he congratulated the new Amir His Highness Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmad on his assumption of power, whilst expressing his deep sadness on the passing away of the late Amir His Highness Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad whom he described as a wise and dedicated leader of the State of Kuwait.

Elaborating on the strong relations between Malta and Kuwait, the Ambassador explained that these ties are the fruit of a longtime history dating back to 1972: “The two countries have been enjoying excellent diplomatic relations for more than half a century now, covering various sectors such as air traffic services, trade, commerce, education, and scientific technology. Through this period the two countries have signed several agreements and memoranda of understanding. We hope and look forward to continue strengthening these excellent bilateral relations between the two countries not only in these areas, but also in other sectors as well, such as sports, culture, and tourism.

“Education is certainly one of the main areas of collaboration between Malta and Kuwait. For example, the University of Malta is the academic cradle for many Kuwaiti students who are studying Medicine or Dentistry in my country. We hope that future discussions and negotiations will lead to intensify such academic collaboration in other areas as well, such as language, culture, archaeology, engineering and architecture. It is also my firm belief that Kuwait could be an ideal hub for Maltese students who would like to further their studies in certain vocational disciplines, such as agribusiness and agricultural sciences. Given the strategic position of both countries, being an ideal place for tourism, I also retain that there can be mutual collaboration in tourism education.”

As regards the business aspect, the Ambassador said that Malta is certainly an ideal destination to the prospective investor, claiming: “Malta lacks natural resources, such as petroleum and gas, but is certainly a safe place for international investment, especially in the setup of businesses, banking and financial services. One has to remember that Malta’s most precious resource is the person, hence the human resource.”

“To enhance communication between the two countries direct connectivity would certainly improve the present situation as direct flights between Malta and Kuwait would mean faster and more cost-effective connections. Direct flights would also encourage more people to consider either country as a tourist destination, whilst serving also as a stimulus to encourage business meetings and endeavours, conferences, seminars, training, and so on. In my opinion, the issue of direct connectivity between Malta and Kuwait is a top priority.”

The Ambassador also referred to the common cultural aspects that exist between the two countries: “The fact that Malta and Kuwait share many common cultural characteristics, such as the language, values and history, is a further means for more collaboration between the two countries even in the cultural aspect. One should bear in mind that my national language, Maltese, is a basically semitic language. About 60% of the language is derived from Arabic or other semitic dialects. This linguistic identity is part of Malta’s history, when between 870 and 1091 it formed part of Dar al-Islam and fell under the Emirate of Sicily. When the Arabs left Malta in the late 11th century, the native semitic culture survived till practically the present day. Apart from the language, many placenames and family names in Malta are also of semitic origin. In fact, the Maltese language is the only semitic language in the world written in the Latin alphabet.”

Prof. Said-Zammit also referred to Maltese society today. He said that the Maltese are peaceful and tolerant. He also referred to the increasing number of expats who work mainly either in the construction industry as well as health and social care services, such as hospitals and old people’s homes and care centres. The increasing number of foreigners meant that even the local Muslim community has grown substantially: “Although the majorty of the Maltese are Christians, respect to other religious faiths is evident across the country. In Malta, we have only one mosque and one Muslim school. For many years, this school was administered by a Christian Head of School. To me, this was a crystal clear example where people of different religious faiths can literally and actively work together.”

Regarding high level visits between the two countries Ambassador Said-Zammit said that while at present there were no concrete plans, Kuwait and Malta are considering such possibilities.

Asked about how he considers Kuwait as a host country, the Maltese envoy claimed: “Kuwait is a peaceful and tolerant country. As an Ambassador I always felt welcome and comfortable. Kuwait certainly offers a conducive environment for the diplomat to engage with the country’s political, economic, and social milieu.”

Regarding his transition from a long educational career to a Diplomat, Professor Said-Zammit said: “After more than three decades working in Education, I felt the need for a new and a completely different avenue in my career. When I was given the opportunity to represent my country as an Ambassador I took up this challenge and never looked back. Needless to say, the support of my family was unfailing. After having served as a non-resident Ambassador to Georgia and Armenia, in 2022 I was appointed as a resident Ambassador to the State of Kuwait, whilst also being a non-resident Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Republic of Iraq.”

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