KUWAIT: Kuwaitis mark today 11 years since His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah stood before the parliament to take his oath of office as the 15th ruler of Kuwait. His Highness Sheikh Sabah is a distinguished ruler who received both executive and legislative backing along with the support of the people at the start of his reign and continues to do so.
Born on June 16, 1929, the fourth son of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was handpicked as a potentially astute statesman. After studying at the local Mubarakiya School, his father sent him to the West to pick up on diplomatic skills he would soon be able to master.
Upon his return in 1954, Sheikh Sabah was immediately handed the role of forming one of the sides of a committee tasked with restructuring state bodies despite being only 25 years old. A year later, he was appointed head of the state social affairs and labor unit, a position he would later thrive in.
At a time of heavy regional and international labor migration into Kuwait, he was responsible for regulating the relationship between employees and business owners. He was also behind the formation of specialist training centers, sports clubs, welfare centers for women, children, the elderly and special needs cases and a traditional arts center.
In 1957, after being tasked with overseeing the state publishing department, the first edition of cultural magazine Al-Arabi was published. It was to later become a huge hit amongst Arab readers and helped put Kuwait on the map as a serious advocate of culture and knowledge.
A publications’ and media law, that placed Kuwait as the top Arab country in the World Media Index was another of his contributions. Two years after Kuwait’s independence in 1961, he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs – a position he would continue to fill over a 40-year period.
His reign as foreign minister was marked by numerous shifts and turbulent circumstances. But thanks to his wise judgment the then minister Sheikh Sabah was able to steady the ship. After raising Kuwait’s flag for the first time at the United Nations in 1963, he immediately set out to cover his role with fervor, becoming instrumental in his policy as a regional.
His first task was to bring together the conflicting sides in Yemen’s civil war, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt who were backing separate sides in the struggle. All the parties were involved in reconciliation talks hosted by Kuwait. As the fighting continued between the north and the south of Yemen, he later paid a visit to both resulting in the signature of a peace agreement in 1972. In 1980 he also mediated reconciliation between Yemen and its western neighbors Oman. He was also faced with difficult regional conditions which he managed to sail through smoothly like the eight-year-old Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s and Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait in 1990.
The role of forming a government, in the place of Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah, was given to him in 2001 after which he was appointed prime minister two years later. This is when his focus on economic affairs began. He launched a local fund for SMEs in order to support the youth. On international affairs, he looked eastwards to sign a total 10 agreements, MoUs and giant business projects with China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore in 2004.
On January 2006, former Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah passed away. His successor was Sheikh Saad, however his extreme sickness prevented him from becoming ruler. It is then that the cabinet sat down to agree that Sheikh Sabah would be the new ruler – a decision that later received the parliament’s backing as well. His Highness the Amir’s development plans for Kuwait are truly underway. Some projects have been completed while some are in the pipeline, including Jaber Hospital, Mubarak Port, and the giant Jaber Bridge which links the north to Kuwait City, Al-Zour refinery, and the new airport.
On September 2014, and after Kuwait hosted three international conferences which helped raise billions of dollars in an unprecedented step for humanitarian efforts on the Syrian refugee crisis, His Highness was handed a ‘Humanitarian Leader’ award by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
Throughout his 11-year reign His Highness the Amir oversaw the handing out of many other relief aid, grants and loans worth tens of millions to nations around the world, particularly to the Palestinians and impoverished countries in Africa and Asia. His love for his people was at its most evident when, moments after terrorists’ bombed Imam Al-Sadeq mosque leaving behind 26 people dead, he showed up unguarded and unarmed to oversee rescue efforts. It was then he made the famous quote “those are my children.” In 2016, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah continued to support the Syrian refugees, cohosting the fourth international donors conference for Syria which was held in the British capital London in February.
His Highness Sheikh Sabah also took part in humanitarian world summit which was held in Istanbul, Turkey, in May of 2016. Late 2016, His Highness Sheikh Sabah added an another milestone to his credential, receiving King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud on his first visit to Kuwait since becoming Monarch of Saudi Arabia. Kuwait rejoices on the day that their ruler celebrates eleven year in office. A humanitarian, a champion of the weak, a man of compassion and a patriot – long live His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
Through his 11 years of reigning as the highest authority in the land, His Highness the Amir had redefined progress in Kuwait, launching several projects that focused on the welfare and development of the country, Speaker of the National Assembly Marzouq Al-Ghanem said yesterday. Speaking on the occasion of the 11th anniversary of His Highness the Amir’s reign, Ghanem affirmed that the leader of Kuwait had steered the nation into safety despite regional and international challenges.
With the presence of terror in the region as a security test and dropping oil prices as an economic challenge, His Highness the Amir fended off these troubles, making sure that they would not affect the people living in Kuwait, said Ghanem who commended His Highness Sheikh Sabah on his wise decisions and clear vision.
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah has decades of experience under his belt, a fact that led to international acknowledgement of regional and international peers, said the parliament Speaker who wished His Highness the Amir and the Kuwaiti people further progress and development.
Progress and development
Meanwhile, Senior officials at Kuwait National Guard (KNG), Information Ministry, and Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) marked the 11th year of His Highness the Amir’s reign. The senior official praised His Highness the Amir, who began his reign on January 29, 2006, for his ever wise decisions that led to the progress and development of Kuwait.
Deputy Chief of the KNG Sheikh Meshaal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah lauded His Highness the Amir long political career that spanned over five decades. His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah had achieve international recognition for his efforts through the UN honoring of him as a humanitarian leader and Kuwait as an global hub for humanitarian efforts.
He also lauded His Highness the Amir’s efforts during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, affirming that Sheikh Sabah was a key figure, along with late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and late Father Amir Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah, in liberating Kuwait in 1991. Sheikh Meshaal took the opportunity to wish His Highness the Amir evermore progress and wellbeing.
In the meantime, Information Minister and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Sheikh Salman Al-Humoud Al-Sabah said that history will remember His Highness Sheikh Sabah for his relentless efforts in the regional and global scenes. Kuwaitis must follow His Highness the Amir’s vision for 2035, said the minister stressing that the current occasion must be celebrated through the nation’s determination to further develop Kuwait under the banner held by the Kuwaiti leadership.
Also reflecting similar sentiments, Director General and Chairman of the Board of Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) Sheikh Mubarak Duaij Al-Ibrahim Al-Sabah said that His Highness the Amir played an integral role in bringing Kuwait into the forefront of international efforts for peace and security.
Whether it was a local, regional, or international issue, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah also made it his mission to make Kuwait as a nation that contributed to the welfare of the global community, said KUNA’s Director who wished His Highness more progress in years to come.
Flag hoisting ceremony
His Highness the will attend and patronize a ceremony to hoist the Kuwaiti flag at Bayan Palace today. His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and senior officials of the state will attend the event. – KUNA