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‘Remember the Amir of Hearts’ – Kuwait marks 10 years since passing of Amir Sheikh Jaber

late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah

KUWAIT: Kuwait marks the 10th anniversary of the passing of the late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on January 15, paying homage to a great legacy that lasted 28 years. Sheikh Jaber was the 13th ruler and third Amir in the constitutional period of the State of Kuwait which began after the creation of the constitution in the reign of Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah in 1962.

Since his ascendency in 1977 and up to his passing in 2006, Sheikh Jaber led Kuwait from a tiny nation in the Arabian Gulf to a political and economic powerhouse. Internationally, its development projects spread out to the far reaches of the globe as its own domestic infrastructure prospered considerably. His reign witnessed domestic crises and regional feuds, but thanks to his wise decision and policy-making Kuwait was able to overcome these challenges.

On May 25, 1985, Sheikh Jaber spoke to the Kuwaiti people after having gone through the terrible ordeal of surviving an assassination attempt on his life carried out by a group of terrorists. Speaking as one of the people in a public address, his words struck a chord with many. “The life of Jaber Al-Ahmad, as long as time stands, is the life of a man which could be lengthened or shortened. But the life of Kuwait is eternal – what is more important is that Kuwait lives and that Kuwait is safe.”

His focus on the youth was admirable. “The youth are the rejuvenating tides of the river of life – this river should remain uninterrupted in order to prevent the discontinuation of that strong flow of renewal in our nation,” he once said.

The Public Authority for Youth and Sports, which catered to the mental, physical and artistic needs of youngsters, was formed in 1992. Women’s affairs were not overlooked during his reign either as he stood a firm supporter of their cause until granting women full political rights in 1999.

Iraq’s August 2, 1990, invasion of Kuwait is arguably one of the most difficult crises to have affected the country in the modern era. It was his crisis management skills and clever diplomacy that Kuwaitis regained their rightful land.

His determination extended, after Kuwait was freed the following year, to rebuilding efforts as he led his people to a swift recovery which focused on reconstruction plans which cost billions of dollars due to the vast destruction left behind.

He gave special attention to the daughters and sons of martyrs, creating the Martyrs’ Office in June, 1991, in honor of their parents’ heroic sacrifice and due to his care for their families. His commitment to Kuwaiti POWs was also commendable as he sought to bring up the issue on countless occasions at regional and international forums.

On the regional and international scales, the former Amir was the mastermind of numerous initiatives. It was his idea to form the Gulf Cooperation Council, the geopolitical bloc that groups six oil-producing nations situated within the Arabian Gulf and which is now respected as a major player on global scale economically and politically.

Where the wider Arab region is concerned, he was responsible for the creation of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, a state agency for the provision and administration of financial and technical assistance to developing countries, in 1961. The fund was the first of its kind in the Middle East. In September, 1988 he stood up at the podium of the UN General Assembly to announce that Kuwait would drop the interest of loans it had handed out to impoverished nations. These efforts were evidently noted when he was chosen in 1995 as the humanitarian personality of the year in a poll conducted amongst five million Arabs by a renowned British media company. – KUNA

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