Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al Ahmed, the former Kuwaiti Minister of Defence, who died on Sunday aged 72. Image Credit: Supplied

Kuwait City: The death of Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, the former Minister of Defence, on Sunday came as a heavy loss to the people of Kuwait as he was regarded as a staunch visionary, patron of the arts and a key player in battling corruption.

Sheikh Nasser, who had battled an illness for months, passed away at the age of 72 just 80 days after the death of his father, the late Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah.

On Monday, Kuwaitis and family members showed up in large numbers at the burial, a testament to how loved and respected the late Sheikh was.

Fight against corruption

During the 15th legislative term, Sheikh Nasser was the government official that brought up and addressed corruption allegations the most.

In November 2019, Sheikh Nasser accused then Prime Minister, Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah, of not addressing the several allegations regarding the embezzlement of approximately 240 million Kuwaiti dinars from the military aid fund.

A few days later, Jaber Al Mubrak’s government resigned “to avoid presenting answers to the queries and questions presented to it about the transgressions that took place in the army fund and related accounts,” Sheikh Nasser said in a statement.

Following the government resignation, the late Emir removed Sheikh Nasser, his oldest son, as defence minister, KUNA said in a statement.

Although Sheikh Nasser no longer held a position in government, he continued his battle against corruption. He worked closely with the Prime Minister, Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled Al Sabah, to investigate the money laundering allegations tied to the Malaysian fund, known as the 1MBD scandal, whih involved the son of the former Prime Minister, Sabah Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah.

In addition, Sheikh Nasser was the founder and member of the Kuwait Association for Protecting Public Funds.

Kuwait 2035

As the key figure behind Kuwait’s Vision 2035, Sheikh Nasser had a forward looking vision for Kuwait, one that would reduce heavy dependency on oil and work towards establishing alternative modes of income.

Part of Sheikh Nasser’s developmental work was Silk City, a 140 billion Kuwaiti dinar project that aimed at building a new city in the northern part of Kuwait that would attract foreign investment and operate as a free zone.

While the project has been at a stand still due to a deadlock between the government and parliament, Sheikh Nasser said back in March 2019, “The parliament and government should join hands to address any shortcomings facing the execution of the vision.”

Friend of the arts

Sheikh Nasser was passionate about art and culture, especially Arab and Islamic arts, which led him to establishing Dar Al Athar Al Islamiyyah, a prominent cultural centre, in 1980.

The cultural centre is home to more than 20,000 rare Arab and Islamic antiquities that were part of Sheikh Nasser and his wife Sheikh Hussa Al Sabah’s collection.

Believing that the arts help build a civilised and dynamic society, Sheikh Nasser oversaw several art festivals and competitions as a way for the cultural scene in Kuwait to flourish.