By Ghadeer Ghloum
KUWAIT: Kuwait Times visited the official residence of the Ambassador of Malta to Kuwait, Iraq and Jordan, Prof Dr George A Said-Zammit, to discuss his vision on what he intends to do in this country to boost the excellent and friendly diplomatic relationship between Kuwait and Malta. Said-Zammit introduced himself to Kuwait Times, saying he arrived in Kuwait at the end of March after a very long period of more than 33 years working in the field of education. He said he spent the first 15 years of his career as a teacher, teaching a variety of subjects such as history, environmental studies and Latin.
In 2008, he moved to the ministry of education in Malta, where he served in different senior management positions, including that of director of education. For some years, he was responsible for support services in all schools of Malta and Gozo, while between 2017 and 2023, he was director and registrar of examinations. Said-Zammit said in 2021, he was offered the position of Non-Resident Ambassador of Malta to Armenia and Georgia. Late in 2022 he was appointed as Resident Ambassador to the State of Kuwait.
“I am also Non-Resident Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Republic of Iraq, but I am resident in Kuwait,” he added. Said-Zammit expressed his love, passion and satisfaction for being in Kuwait from the day he arrived here. He said he does not see Kuwait as a different country but as a second home, because the people of Kuwait share many common values, besides similarities in their language, explaining how Maltese, a Semitic language, derives from Arabic. In fact, it is the only Semitic language in the world written in the Latin alphabet. Due to its uniqueness, Maltese also constitutes one of the official languages of the European Union.
Said-Zammit explained how the Maltese culture is deeply rooted in Semitic civilization in various aspects, not only the language. This is because for a long time, the Maltese Islands were dominated by Arabs — between 870 and the late 11th century. Hence, there are similarities in various aspects such as numbers, days of the week, toponomy, architecture and even traditional farming practices. He also showed his admiration on the way Kuwaiti people salute others, as they speak of love, respect and peace (like what the Maltese do), which makes one feel at home.
With regards to the political and diplomatic relationship between Malta and Kuwait, Said-Zammit explained that diplomatic relations between the two states hark back to the second half of the previous century, more than 50 years ago. However, their relationship got even stronger during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, when Malta was one of the principal actors involved to bring an end to the military conflict. The relations between the two countries exist at various levels: “One of my main goals is to continue working and improving the excellent diplomatic relations that exist between the two countries.
We can work on this through different means such as tourism and education, as we have a good number of Kuwaiti students coming to Malta to study medicine and dentistry at the University of Malta, besides some other subjects. So, the friendly relationship is in place, but to make it stronger, it is crucial to meet people and get to know them, talk to them, discuss with them and learn from them too. That is certainly one of my principal objectives,” he said. Said-Zammit also emphasized the significance of reading, reflecting and studying, stressing that one of the main tasks an ambassador has is to read and evaluate what is happening around them every day.
Reading the newspaper and following television and social media is a must: One has to know and understand the host country in context. “You cannot observe and see what is happening in Kuwait as if it is a country on its own. Kuwait is part of the Gulf region and the Gulf region forms a part of the world, so one has to view Kuwait within a global context. Every country has its own challenges, but I can see that we can work together on various aspects: Tourism, education, culture, business and trade,” Said-Zammit said. Ambassador Said-Zammit told Kuwait Times he would like to interact soon with students in different educational fields. He hopes to give lectures about the similarities between both cultures, maybe at Kuwait University and other educational institutions.
Said-Zammit gave a brief description of Malta, saying it is a very small island located between North Africa and southern Europe, in the center of the Mediterranean Sea. Due to its strategic geographical position, Malta plays a pivotal role for those seeking asylum, mainly from North Africa. Malta is obliged by international treatises and agreements to rescue and take care of these people, not only because of its international obligations, but after all, also because they are human beings.
He further elaborated saying that Malta also offers good business opportunities to the international commercial community, particularly in the banking and financial sector. Malta does not have natural resources except for its local globigerina stone, used mainly in the construction industry. For this reason, Malta depends mostly on tourism, manufacturing and the services industry. Insofar as education is concerned, Said-Zammit also mentioned Malta’s leading role in the teaching of English as a Foreign Language.