[Sponsored Report] Kuwait, Korea solidify partnership and look to future
NATIONAL DAY MESSAGE 2019
It is with great pleasure and honor that I extend my warmest greetings to the government and the kind and generous people of the friendly nation of South Korea.
As the cold winter nears its end to give way to the warm spring bloom, the people of the State of Kuwait are working busily with excitement in preparation of the country’s joyous 58th National Day on Feb. 25 and the 28th anniversary of Liberation Day on the following day, Feb. 26.
This year is particularly special as it marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the State of Kuwait and the Republic of Korea (the official name for South Korea). I am most grateful for and proud of the achievements our two nations have made as true partners ever since the establishment of our diplomatic ties in 1979. Our close and enduring friendship has made it possible for our two nations to cherish and celebrate each other’s happy occasions with utmost respect and sincerity. In this light, I would like to thank all government institutions, private companies and organizations that have worked hard for our countries to reach this level of outstanding relations.
Though our diplomatic relations may have begun in 1979, our interactions started even earlier when Korean companies imported Kuwaiti oil in the 1960s, meaning that actual ties between our two nations have covered a period of over 50 years. The government and the people of the State of Kuwait, including myself, are deeply thankful for the beautiful and peaceful relations that our two nations were able to build, maintain and grow.
The year 2018 was a remarkable year for Korea as it witnessed major events ranging from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang County, Gangwon, to the summits between His Excellency Moon Jae-in, president of the Republic of Korea and His Excellency Kim Jong-un, leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the official name for North Korea). It was also a year of noteworthy achievements for the ever-growing Kuwait-Korea partnership.
The diplomatic relations between the State of Kuwait and the Republic of Korea enjoyed various high-level visits between their leaders, one of them being the historical visit of His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, prime minister of the State of Kuwait, to the Republic of Korea from May 8 to 11, 2016. Since this landmark visit, the growth in the Kuwait-Korea partnership has gained tremendous momentum, especially due to the signing of memorandums and agreements strengthening cooperation in the field of oil, construction, health care and education. The success of the visit of His Highness the Kuwaiti prime minister to boost the Kuwait-Korea partnership was also apparent in 2018.
Trade value between Kuwait and Korea reached $14 billion in 2018, a 33 percent increase from 2017. Korea and Kuwait have been major trade partners for each other for a long time, with Kuwait being Korea’s third-largest Arab trade partner and the second-largest supplier of crude oil.
Cooperation in the field of education and training continued as well. A total of 460 Kuwaiti citizens working in major Kuwaiti oil companies visited Korea in the past two years to receive education and training in management and leadership through programs organized by Daewon Advisory. Through such cooperation, Korea has played an essential role in Kuwait’s plan to develop its human resources, a part of its grand development plan for the country.
Numerous high-level visits between Kuwait and Korea in 2018 also demonstrated the efforts of our two countries to execute plans to advance existing cooperation and explore other fields for new cooperation.
In May, a delegation headed by Dr. Mustafa Ridha, undersecretary of the Ministry of Health of the State of Kuwait, visited the Republic of Korea in order to attend Medical Korea 2018, the ninth Global Healthcare and Medical Tourism Conference, to amplify the Kuwait-Korea cooperation in the field of health care, an essential area when it comes to diversifying the Kuwait-Korea bilateral relations. It was decided that such cooperation in health care would focus on four different objectives: the treatment of Kuwaiti patients, training of Kuwaiti doctors, application of Korean smart technology to the sector and management of Kuwaiti hospitals.
In September, Her Excellency Dr. Jinan Mohsen Ramadan, minister of state for housing and services affairs of the State of Kuwait, led a delegation to the Republic of Korea with the aim of further enhancing cooperation in construction. In addition to the bilateral talks with Her Excellency Kim Hyun-mee, South Korean minister of land, infrastructure and transport, Her Excellency Dr. Jinan Mohsen Ramadan participated in the Global Infrastructure Cooperation Conference in Seoul and World Smart City Week in Ilsan, as well as held meetings with the CEO of LH (Korea Land and Housing Corporation) and the CEO of IIAC (Incheon International Airport Cooperation), all of which concluded with fruitful outcomes for a continuously active Kuwait-Korea partnership in the field of construction. Furthermore, the delegation touched upon on the promising field of smart technology, making Kuwait the first country in the Arab world to implement Korean smart technology in large-scale development projects.
Not long after the visit of the Kuwaiti minister of housing and services affairs to the Republic of Korea, the Korean minister of land, infrastructure and transport also made a visit to the State of Kuwait in October, with the purpose of continuing discussions on more participation of Korean companies in mega projects including the South Saad Al-Abdullah Smart City Project in cooperation with LH, Terminal 4 of Kuwait International Airport Project in cooperation with IIAC and the $3 billion Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah Causeway Project whose contractors include Korean companies Hyundai Engineering & Construction and GS Engineering & Construction.
Kuwait and Korea also witnessed notable activities in the field of culture as the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, in cooperation with the Kuwaiti National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters and the Korea-Arab Society, invited the 11th Korea-Arab Friendship Caravan to the State of Kuwait to showcase traditional Korean folk dancing and modern “B-Boy” break dancing on Oct. 20 last year. The fully occupied seats, the loud cheers from the audience and the passionate response from the public confirmed the fever for Korean culture in Kuwait and its immense potential to pave the way for stronger cooperation in the field of culture.
Lastly, near the end of December, the 27th Kuwait Taekwondo Championship was held with great success. With 70 athletes participating, the competition acted as an opportunity to promote Korean martial arts in Kuwait and increase friendship among our two countries through sports.
Speaking of sports, Kuwait and Korea were able to show their mutual love for sports during the 52nd International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championship, which took place in the city of Changwon, South Gyeongsang, from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15 last year. Many Kuwaiti athletes had the chance to visit the industrial city of Changwon to not only participate in the event, but also have a cultural experience in the friendly country of Korea.
Furthermore, Kuwait’s solid commitment to its development worth $112 billion as a part of the ongoing “Kuwait Vision 2035” to revamp the nation into a world-class financial and commercial hub reconfirms the countless possibilities the Kuwait-Korea partnership still has. Together with aforementioned mega development projects, Kuwait is looking forward to carrying out two mega projects in which the Kuwaiti government has designated $250 billion for its fulfillment: the Madinat Al-Hareer, also known as the “Silk Road project,” and the “Kuwait Five Islands project,” whose aim is to transform the five Kuwaiti islands of Boubyan, Failaka, Warba, Miskan and Awha into five different economic cities.
The firm partnership between Kuwait and Korea has a positive outlook for 2019 as well.
The New Year started strong with Her Excellency Dr. Pak Un-jung, chairwoman of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea, visiting the State of Kuwait on Jan. 15 to share Korean policies and benchmark cases at the International Anti-Corruption Conference. The visit highlighted Kuwait and Korea’s mutual values toward respecting the law.
On Jan. 24, Her Excellency Dr. Jinan Mohsen Ramadan, minister of state for housing and services affairs of the State of Kuwait, initialed an agreement between the Kuwaiti Public Authority for Housing Welfare and LH to develop the smart city South Saad Al-Abdullah District.
Near the end of January 2019, Korean journalists from different distinguished Korean newspapers were invited to the State of Kuwait by the Ministry of Information of the State of Kuwait as a part of celebrating the 40th anniversary of Kuwait-Korea diplomatic relations. The journalists were provided the opportunity to experience the Kuwaiti people and their culture first-hand in the hopes of strengthening communication between our two countries.
Most recently, from Feb. 9 to 12, a delegation of Kuwait Parliamentarians of the Fifth Parliamentary Friendship Group of the State of Kuwait made an official visit to the Republic of Korea in the context of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two friendly nations. The visit of this delegation was essential as it was proof of the excellent parliamentary relations Kuwait and Korea hold, in addition to the visits of 2015 where His Excellency Ali Al-Ghanim, president of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, visited the Republic of Korea, and 2017 where His Excellency Chung Sye-kyun, former speaker of the National Assembly, visited the State of Kuwait. In continuation of such relations, His Excellency Ali Al-Ghanim recently extended an invitation to His Excellency Moon Hee-sang, current speaker of the National Assembly, to visit the State of Kuwait.
It is exciting to look back at the incredible amount of work our two countries accomplished together to expand our strategic alliance. I look forward to more communication, interaction and collaboration between our two countries this year, which marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations. I am most confident that 2019 will also prove to be a productive and vibrant year, bringing more positive changes and contributions to the Kuwait-Korea bilateral relations.
Furthermore, I would like to take a moment to also thank the Republic of Korea and the international community for standing with Kuwait in achieving its liberation in 1991 and for supporting Kuwait in being elected to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2017 as a non-permanent member for the 2018-2019 term. Kuwait and Korea share the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and stability through dialogue, mediation and peaceful means. In this context, Kuwait, together with the Kingdom of Sweden, played an important role and succeeded in issuing the UNSC resolution 2449 on humanitarian access and aid to Syria. Therefore, I would like to assure Korea that it can count on Kuwait’s full attention and consideration. Kuwait has played a leading role working with the international community regarding North Korean issues, and it will continue to welcome the efforts of His Excellency Moon Jae-in, president of the Republic of Korea, in his initiatives of dialogue with North Korea and implementation of the relevant UNSC resolutions to reach the goal of creating lasting peace, stability, development and prosperity in the Korean Peninsula.
I avail myself of this opportunity to express my most profound gratitude to the government and people of the friendly nation of the Republic of Korea and my earnest hopes that our partner continues to enjoy peace, stability and prosperity.