Ambassador of Kuwait Jasem Ibrahem JM Al-Najem has been in India barely for few months, but he is busy making his plans to further strengthen people to people relations with India which has very cordial relations with Kuwait. THE BLUE MOON Editor Amit Mittal got an opportunity to speak to him about bilateral ties. Some excerpts from the talk with the Ambassador.
Ever since the discovery of oil, Kuwait must have become rich overnight?
Oil was discovered before World War II, but the first shipment was made in 1948.Till then people depended on trade through Basra to India where they exported horses and dates and in return imported wood and spices. After the discovery of oil the government found that it was ripe time to let the people export oil. The vision of new Kuwait started that time. The other view is that after independence in 1961 new Kuwait came into being. The country joined Arab League, Non Aligned Movement and Kuwait came on to the global level. It started giving soft loans for various infrastructure projects. Till date Kuwait is one of the top five providing developmental fund to almost 106 countries to the tune of $15 billion which is called Kuwaiti fund for development and is at low profit.
Last visit by an Indian Prime Minister happened 36 years ago; why this large gap in PM visits?
There is no reason behind this. Our relations with India are good at all levels. Kuwait Prime Minister Jabar Al Mubarak visited India in 2013 and signed various bilateral agreements. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was extended an invite from Kuwait in 2017 and we expect him to visit the country in 2019.
Mohammad Abdullatif Al-Farhoud, CEO, Petrochemical Industries Company (PIC), Kuwait along with a delegation from KCCI attended the 8th Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit which was held from 10-13 January 2017 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat: What has been the outcome of the visit?
The outcome will be good.
Office Consultations were held in New Delhi on 16 November 2016; the Kuwaiti delegation was led by Assistant Foreign Minister Ali AlSaeed and also included Ambassador of Kuwait to India Fahad Ahmad Al-Awadi: what has been the result of the meeting focus was on labour and Consular related issues?
In 2018 our Minister for Labour was in Delhi. An agreement was signed by Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj which was adopted in the Indian Parliament in January this year.
Dr. Abdulmohsen Medeij Al-Medeij, Minister of Commerce &Industry led a business delegation to the Partnership Summit held in Jaipur, Rajasthan on 15-17 January 2015, as well as to the 4th India-Arab Partnership Conference held in New Delhi on 26-27 November 2014 ; What has been the result of the conference and meetings?
Kuwait has become an important trading partner for India with a total trade of over US $5 billion in 2016-2017. It has also been the seventh largest crude supplier in 2016-2017. Indian exports to Kuwait are pegged at US $ 1.5 billion.
India’s exports to Kuwait grew by 19.79% (US$ 1.49 billion) in 2016-17 vis-à-vis 2015- 16.
This is correct to state that India’s exports to Kuwait grew to this level.
Kuwaiti investments in India are over US$ 3.5 billion, of which US$ 3 billion is by Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA). In December 2015 KIA announced an investment of US$ 300 million in GMR Infrastructure Ltd., while in October 2015, KIA made a substantial investment in the Interglobe Aviation’s (Indigo Airlines) IPO and about US$ 2.7 million in Bombay Stock Exchange’s anchor investment in January 2017. In 2013, KIA had made an investment of US$ 5.37 million in the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd.
In fact Kuwait is looking to increase the investment.
Kuwait remains a reliable supplier of crude oil & LPG to India, meeting our crucial energy needs. What is the quantum of exports?
Yes. Kuwait happens to be the seventh largest crude supplier to India in 2016-2017. Many Indian EPC companies are engaged in Kuwait. The total trade with India has been of the order of over US $ 5 billion worth petroleum and oil.
To streamline the recruitment of nurses from India for work in Kuwait. Is the issue still pending resolution. What next?
During the visit of Indian Minister Sushma Swaraj, the matter has been sorted out.
There are 21 Indian schools in Kuwait which are providing education to nearly 47,000 Indian and foreign students. All these schools are affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and follow CBSE curriculum.
This is correct and proves the good relations between the two countries. I hope in future the number Indian students will increase. There is misunderstanding on any issue between the two governments.
Kuwaiti Embassy in cooperation with ICCR organized the “Kuwait Cultural Week” from 15 – 19 May 2012 at New Delhi and Jaipur. Nothing thereafter?
That is what I am trying to do now. I already met the President of ICCR to increase mutual Programs. We will do cultural programs not only in Delhi but other States also. For instance the Indian Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan was in Kuwait at the end of 2018. Such cultural functions and exchanges increase cultural relations between the two countries
As per the latest statics received from Kuwait authorities, the number of Indian nationals stand at one million. Is this the largest group of foreigners?
Yes, Indian nationals are the number one group in Kuwait. Numbering about one million citizens they work in various capacities and positions.