Ambassador Nicolaas Beets

For His Excellency Nicolaas Beets, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands, every day has been momentous in his diplomatic journey to Kuwait ever since he arrived here in September last year. “It has been a very interesting time for me and I welcome each day with excitement,” the energetically young Ambassador told The Times in an exclusive interview recently. Urbane, suave and soft spoken Ambassador Beets foray into the world of diplomacy has been as surprising as his academic journey.

A graduate in Business and Management Studies from Delft University in 1978, Ambassador Beets took a detour from the world he was aspiring to build his career. “I happened to see an advertisement by the Netherland Ministry of Foreign Affairs for diplomat trainees. I applied and they offered me the job. After a year of diplomatic training, I was posted to the Republic of Suriname in 1979.” he recalled.

This was followed by more than two decades of diplomatic assignments in Indonesia, Sudan and at The Hague. “Returning to the home country in 1991, I began working first at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Personnel Management Directorate and then in 1995, headed different divisions at the European Integration Department in the Ministry,” the Ambassador reminisced Having completed his home assignment in 2000, Beets was posted as Ambassador to Riga in the Republic of Latvia and four years later was accredited to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. “I then did another four-year stint as ambassador at Helsinki, Finland, before being appointed in 2012 as envoy to the State of Kuwait and nonresident ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain.”

Diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Netherlands and Kuwait go back to the time of Kuwait’s independence in 1962. Statistics on his fingertips, Ambassador Beets said, “Diplomatic links between our two countries have been strengthened and further developed through bilateral ties in various fields, including economic, political and cultural,” he pointed out The Kuwait Investment Authority has significant investments in the Dutch economy and since 1983, Kuwait Petroleum International (KPI), the global marketing arm of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, has its headquarters in The Hague.

Over the years, Q8, the brand under which KPI markets itself, has developed an extensive network of extremely successful service stations across Europe; and in 1985, Q8 became the first company to introduce environmentally friendly unleaded fuel on the continent. The envoy added, “Today, Kuwait exports nearly US$ 3 billion worth of oil and its derivates through the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands and operates its own refinery there. Kuwait imports around US $300 million worth of goods, mainly in the form of agricultural products, dairy items and machinery from the Netherlands.”

Elaborating on existing trade ties the diplomat said, “After a long hiatus, we have recently resumed the export of beef to Kuwait and look ahead to enhancing trade with the country. Commercial ties are further bolstered by the active presence in Kuwait of several multi-national Dutch companies like KLM the Royal Dutch Airlines, Shell Corporation, Royal Philips Electronics and Sigma Paints, the world’s second largest coatings manufacturer. We also have a large private-sector presence, mainly as a specialized sub-contractor, in several major development projects in Kuwait, especially in the construction and marine industries.”

Both Netherlands and Kuwait share parallel views and adopt similar stances on a range of international issues as far as global politics is concerned. “Our two countries are also involved in parallel financing of numerous development projects around the globe; Kuwait through its Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and the Netherlands through designating around one percent of its GDP around US$ 8 billion annually for international development activities.”

Admitting that Netherlands feels the headwinds from the sluggish European economy, in terms of income, Ambassador Beets said “we are still amongst the highest in the European Union. And, with unemployment at less than 3 percent and inflation at around 1 percent we are looking ahead to a slow but steady revival in growth and investments.” he said optimistically.  The Ambassador recalled the darks days of invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990, and said his country played a role in the international coalition that helped liberate Kuwait.

“Since them” the envoy went on to add, “cooperation and dialogue between our two countries have continued through the years and contributed significantly to building and developing a strong framework based on friendship, shared viewpoints and mutual respect.” The prestigious Maastricht School of Management, based in the Netherlands, has been successfully operating a private business school, the Kuwait-Maastricht Business School (KMBS), in Kuwait since 2003. Incidentally, KMBS is currently the only internationally accredited business school in Kuwait providing a degree that is recognized worldwide.

“There are also around 50 Kuwaiti students, sponsored by Kuwait Petroleum International, who are presently enrolled at Rotterdam University,” revealed the ambassador. He added, “In addition to educational cooperation and cultural exchanges, tourism is increasingly playing a role in developing interactions on the people to people level. In 2012, our embassy issued over 5,000 visit visas from Kuwait, a hike of over 25 percent from the numbers in 2008; this year we have already witnessed an increase in the number of visa applications.”

“Furthermore, we have had several cultural visits by leading Dutch musicians to Kuwait. For instance, on March 7th of this year, our embassy in association with Kuwait Chamber Philharmonia, presented a live performance titled ‘New Blues for Piano’ by the renowned Dutch pianist Marcel Worms at the Grand Ballroom of Radisson Blu Hotel. And in 2012, the well-known composer and pianist from the Netherlands, Mike del Ferro, conducted a jazz recital in Kuwait along with the popular vocalist CoCo York. These house-full events reflected the deep appreciation for arts among people of both countries. We are now exploring the possibility of exhibiting the works of Dutch painters from the 1940s in Kuwait, at some date in the near future,” disclosed Ambassador Beets.

Continuing on the embassy’s upcoming activities the ambassador said the year 2013 is particularly important to the Dutch people, as during this year his country will witness two momentous occasions. “Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Kingdom of Netherlands expressed her desire to abdicate in favor of her eldest son on April 30. Following his investiture the current heir-apparent will be announced as King Willem Alexander and will become the first king our country will have in 123 years.”

Also 2013 will mark the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Kingdom of Netherlands. Dutch people around the world are expected to commemorate both events with pomp and pride and the embassy here will be hosting special celebrations to mark the occasion. An enthusiastic golf player and an avid cross-country skier, Ambassador Beets is in Kuwait along with his wife and ten-year old son.

Asked how he felt landing in the blistering summer heat of September in Kuwait, the ambassador smiled, “Having done a stint in Saudi Arabia, we were prepared for the heat; and it took us awhile to acclimatize to the dry climate here, my son is out all the time with his football.” Concluding his interview Ambassador Beets added, “Though it has been 34 years since I embarked on this diplomatic career, it seems only like yesterday that I joined the service. Every country that I have been posted was a new experience and the posting to Kuwait is proving to be no different — challenging, exciting and very fulfilling.”


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