By Hafeez M.S. Al-Ajmi, Ambassador of the State of Kuwait to the Kingdom of the Netherlands & Permanent Representative to the International Organizations since October 2010.
It gives me great pleasure to write a short article in the Diplomat Magazine and share some facts about my country, its relation with the Netherlands and its global views and activity. The State of Kuwait gained its independence in 1961 and ever since, Kuwait has two fundamental objectives: to preserve political stability and economic welfare of its nation and people and to promote peace and stability regionally and internationally.
Geographically speaking, both Kuwait and the Netherlands share common features. They are both small nations with access to the sea and both are privileged for having a strategic location which allows them to be one of the leaders of trading nations in the world, especially in the field of oil and gas related issues. In 1964, The Netherlands was one of the first countries which established Diplomatic Relation with Kuwait and based on this solid foundation, both countries maintain strong bilateral relations and enjoy their diplomacy at high level.
Beside the Political ties, Kuwait and the Netherlands have also comprehensive partnership founded on the commitment of strong economic development. Within the EU countries, the Netherlands is the biggest trade partner of Kuwait. Kuwait exports about 2.5 billion euros worth of oil (including other products) to the Netherlands annually and this is more than half of what it exports to all the EU countries. The Netherlands on the other hand, exports about 500 million Euros worth products to Kuwait every year and the common interest of both countries keeps growing. As its name refers, Kuwait Petroleum International, KPI, is a company, which is engaged in research, refinery, marketing and sale of petroleum products internationally. As part of its oil refinery in Europe, KPI has been very active in the Netherlands for more than 30 years through its establishment of Kuwait Petroleum Europoort (KPE) in Rotterdam. KPE is a refinery which processes about 4 million tons of crude oil every year.
In pursue of this economic growth and close partnership with the Netherlands, various Memorandum of Understandings, (MoU), Treaties and Agreements have been signed and implemented between the two countries. One of the latest was the MoU on the environment sector, signed in April 2014, between officials from Kuwait Environment Public Authority (KEPA) and concerned Dutch Authorities, in presence of the Mayor of Rotterdam. In May 2014, Kuwait also signed a six year Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Agreement with Royal Dutch Shell, with an estimated worth of 12 billion dollars.
With respect to enhancing sustainable economy regionally and globally, Kuwait has an honorable record in contributing funds for developing and least developed countries. Established in 1961, The Kuwait Fund for Economic Development, contributes billions of Euros by playing an active role in the fields of education, water supplies, power plant etc. reaching out more than 100 countries all over the world. Simultaneously, in terms of peace, security, respect of sovereignty of states and issues of justice, crime against humanity, human rights which need global solution and international coordination, Kuwait plays a vital role through its donation and contribution to the activities of the concerned International Organizations based in the Hague as well abroad. With these objectives, Kuwait also facilitates and hosts many International Conferences aimed to rally financial support and meet basic humanitarian need of affected communities.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Kuwait – Netherlands Diplomacy. To commemorate this milestone and to further deepen and enhance the mutual cooperation, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait, His Excellency Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah visited the Netherlands on the 21st and 22nd of May, 2014. During this time, Sheikh Al-Sabah met his counter part, H.E. Mr. Frans Timmerman, followed by a tete a tete meeting with His Excellency Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands.
Sheikh Al-Sabah also took the above opportunity to address the opening ceremony of three new residences in Wassenaar together with the Mayor of Wassenaar, Drs. Jan Hoekema. The villas are built for Kuwaiti Diplomats who gets assigned to the Netherlands periodically. The ceremony was also honored by the presence of officials from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and concerned authorities. This month, on June 20th last, the Minister of Oil and Minister of State for National Assembly of the State of Kuwait, H.E. Dr. Ali Saleh Al-Omeir, also visited the Netherlands upon the kind invitation of H.E. Mr. Henk Kamp, Minister of Economic Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with all the primary objectives to the continuation and fostering a strong spirit of economic cooperation between the two countries.
The fore runners of both countries who planted the seeds of friendly relationship between the two countries, are now reaping the harvest of strong and solid bilateral relationship heading for a greater and brighter future.