Kuwait-Qatar friendship: Breaking borders with unshakeable unity – By Tareq Yousef Alshumaimry

The enduring bond between Kuwait and Qatar continues to thrive, bolstered by seamless coordination between visionary leaders and a steadfast dedication to nurturing these relations across diverse fronts.

The visit of His Highness Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait, to Doha on 20 February signifies a profound and significant gesture of goodwill, underscored by deep-seated sentiments of affection and gratitude towards the esteemed government and people of Qatar.

The enduring bond between Qatar and Kuwait continues to thrive, bolstered by seamless coordination between visionary leaders and a steadfast dedication to nurturing these relations across diverse fronts. This transformation has elevated the historic ties between the two nations from bilateral cooperation into a comprehensive strategic partnership, fostering seamless integration across various domains.

The two states share relations and bonds that transcend mere diplomatic and geographic boundaries, and are deeply rooted in history. These ties stand as a vivid testament to integration, solidarity, and collaboration among brethren, not only within the Arabian Gulf region but across the entirety of the Arab world.

Kuwait, Qatar share unique relations: The two countries are bound by unique relations, forged through a shared destiny, common goals, and a collective effort to achieve integration and interdependence in crucial areas that fulfill the aspirations of their people. This aligns with the determination of the wise political leaderships in both countries to propel and elevate these relations to higher and more integrated levels.

These relations have witnessed extensive development in recent years, as reflected in the convergence of perspectives between the two nations on various political and economic fronts, as well as a shared vision on regional and international issues. Senior officials from both nations regularly exchange visits, messages, and communications, underscoring the distinguished partnership between Kuwait and Qatar, and the exceptional status and high regard for Kuwait in the hearts of the Qatari people, including His Highness the Amir, the government, and citizens.

Kuwait played a pivotal role in mediating between GCC countries embroiled in the ‘Ambassadors withdrawal’ crisis in 2014. Additionally, the late Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah played a crucial role in resolving the subsequent ‘Gulf crisis’ between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain on one side and Qatar on the other.

As a gesture of gratitude, Qatar launched the Sabah Al-Ahmad Road on 25 February, 2019, under the direction of Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. This marked the first expansive infrastructure project named after a Gulf and Arab leader.

This new route extends from the south to the north of Doha, serving as a new lifeline for the country’s roads. The name symbolizes Qatar’s gratitude, love, and appreciation for this great Arab leader, who distinguished himself with honorable positions towards his homeland, Arab brethren, and the Islamic nation worldwide, earning him the well-deserved title of ‘Prince of Humanity.’

Cooperation across diverse fields: Cooperation between Kuwait and Qatar spans various fields, including politics, economics, trade, investment, military, security, education, tourism, and the arts. A Joint Supreme Committee was set up on 18 June 2002, to foster a twinning relationship between the two countries, encompassing all aspects of cooperation and seeking broader prospects for fraternal ties.

In November 2020, the committee convened its 5th session using visual communication technology. The session encompassed a review of bilateral cooperation, enhancing collaboration, fostering greater integration across various sectors, and exchanging views on mutual interests. Five MoUs were signed, focusing on promoting direct investment, civil service affairs and administrative development, Islamic affairs, various agricultural sectors, and enhancing road implementation, construction, and maintenance.

On the security and defense fronts, the two countries have signed multiple cooperation protocols and agreements to enhance their defensive and security capabilities. In line with these agreements, Kuwait participated in security duties during the 2022 FIFA World Cup held in Qatar.

On the economic front, Kuwait and Qatar established a joint financing company in 1999 to offer Islamic Sharia-compliant services to consumers in Qatar. The company has a capital of approximately KD 4 million (around $13 million), with Kuwait holding around 49 percent and Qatar owning 51 percent of the capital.

In 2018, the regular maritime line between Qatar’s Hamad and Kuwait’s Shuwaikh seaports was set up to transfer goods and passengers, revitalizing ties between the private sectors of both countries.

In the realm of petroleum, a significant development occurred in January 2020 when Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and QatarEnergy inked an agreement. Under this accord, QatarEnergy would supply natural gas to Kuwait for a 15-year period starting in 2022. The pact entails the delivery of three million tons of natural gas to the natural gas complex in Al-Zour Port, Kuwait.

In 2023, the Qatari government initiated a project aimed at preventing double taxation and curbing tax evasion concerning capital and income.

Kuwait is Qatar’s 12th largest trading partner: Kuwait ranks as Qatar’s 12th largest trading partner, with the volume of trade between the two countries experiencing consistent growth. The shipping line inaugurated between Hamad Port and Kuwait’s Shuwaikh Port in August 2017 has been instrumental in doubling the volume of trade between them. It has also provided an efficient service for transporting goods, particularly food and other essentials, to and from Qatar regularly.

The Qatari market has seen an increase in the number of Kuwaiti companies operating with full ownership, now totaling 170, while the number of joint Qatari-Kuwaiti ventures has surpassed 656. The significant air traffic between the two countries underscores the growing trade relations, a focus for both sides in their efforts to enhance and expand.

The cooperation between the two countries has extended to the education sector, with numerous Kuwaiti students studying in Qatar across various academic levels, particularly at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels in various majors and universities.

Military cooperation: There is great military cooperation between the two countries, with the number of Kuwaiti officer students enrolled in Qatari military colleges reaching 69.  Additionally, there has been extensive participation from various sectors of the Qatar Armed Forces in joint exercises held in Kuwait, while large numbers of the Kuwait Armed Forces participate in exercises held in Qatar.

Bonds transcend diplomatic and geographical boundaries: The enduring bond between the Kuwaiti and Qatari peoples is deeply rooted in their shared history, strengthened by the enduring ties of kinship that have withstood the test of time.

Following Qatar’s independence in 1971, Kuwait recognized the fellow Gulf country, establishing diplomatic relations and exchanging ambassadors.

Gulf War solidarity: Perhaps the true strength of relations was exemplified during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 when Qatar condemned the act and called for the withdrawal of invading troops.

Qatar backed its condemnation with acts of solidarity, hosting around 9,300 Kuwaiti citizens during the invasion period.

The visit of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to Qatar will further solidify the decades-long ties and enhance cooperation between the leaderships and people of both countries.

Tareq Yousef AlShumaimry, served as Chairman of the Finance Committee and Chairman of the General Budget Committee of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague (PCA) and an observer in the Administrative Council of the Court and the Consular at International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the Embassy of the State of Kuwait in the Netherlands during this period from 2013 to 2020.
Email: tareq@alshumaimry.com

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