Kuwait's Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Kuwait City: It has been six years since the United Nations honoured the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah, with the distinguished title of ‘Humanitarian Leader’. On August 9, 2014 the UN’s Secretary General at the time, Ban Ki-moon, distinguished the Emir as a ‘Global Humanitarian Leader’.

The Emir has placed Kuwait as a leading country in the humanitarian field, as the country has assisted and offered aid to people in need around the world.

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Marking the six-year anniversary, Kuwait’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Mohammad Al Sabah, said in a press statement that the recognition reflects Kuwait’s leading philanthropic status and congratulated the Emir on the occasion.

Dr. Tariq Al Sheikh, the Resident Coordinator of the UN in Kuwait, also congratulated Sheikh Sabah and said that the Emir’s diplomatic and humanitarian approach and commitment to peace is a strategic choice for Kuwait, both internally and externally, in all aspects diplomatic, developmental and humanitarian.

While top governmental officials congratulated the Emir on the six-year anniversary, they also wished him a speedy recovery as he is currently undergoing medical treatment in the United States. According to the cabinet of ministers, the Emir’s health is stable. In July, Sheikh Sabah flew to the United States to receive treatment after he underwent a successful surgery in Kuwait.

Humanitarian work

Sheikh Sabah has 40 years of experience in international affairs, as he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs prior to becoming Emir. He has been applauded as one of the Arab world’s leading diplomats and a global humanitarian.

Jimmy Carter, former United States president, has highlighted the Emir’s humanitarian work and his support for disaster relief, peace efforts and advancing public health. He said, “other world leaders can learn from the wise example set by my friends, His Highness the Emir.”

Under the direction of Sheikh Sabah, in 2013 Kuwait donated 33 million Kuwaiti dinars (Dh396 million) to support Syrian refugees in neighbouring Arab countries. The gesture amounted to the single largest donation by a Gulf country to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, then high commissioner of UNHCR, praised the “wisdom and the courage of His Highness the Emir in deciding to act through the international, multilateral humanitarian system. This indeed raises the voice and the influence of Kuwait in the international community.”

In February 2020, Palestinians in Gaza named a street after Sheikh Sabah for his ongoing efforts to support Palestinian rights. Through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Kuwait gave the Palestinians a 61 million Kuwaiti dinars grant to rebuild homes and infrastructure that was damaged after the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza.

A day after the Beirut explosion, Kuwait sent 36 tonnes of medicine, wheelchairs, baby milk and blood bags to Beirut. The Kuwait Red Crescent has continuously been working to provide essentials and medical supplies to the Lebanese people.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Kuwait donated 12 million Kuwaiti dinars to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to help combat the spread of the virus. The money was distributed to countries that were in need of medical and financial support.