Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 October 2020

Kuwait's new leadership equipped to face tough challenges ahead

Kuwait's Emir Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah meets with newly appointed Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, in Kuwait City. Kuwait News Agency
Kuwait's Emir Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah meets with newly appointed Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, in Kuwait City. Kuwait News Agency

Kuwait has been in mourning since September 29. The longtime ruler of the emirate, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, died at the age of 91. His passing comes at a difficult time for both Kuwait and the wider region, as nations face a surge in Covid-19 cases and continue to suffer from the economic repercussions of the pandemic. But the nation is also preparing for a new beginning.

Honouring Sheikh Sabah’s legacy as a man of peace and a unifying figure, Kuwait statesmen acted swiftly to ensure that the country does not suffer from a power vacuum.

Kuwait’s new Emir, Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmed Al Sabah, nominated Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmed Al Sabah as Crown Prince within eight days.

Sheikh Sabah played a pivotal role in mediation and diplomacy in the Gulf and wider Middle East, both as foreign minister and Emir. Kuwait has adopted a quiet but influential diplomatic approach in the region and will continue to do so.

Sheikh Nawaf said he was committed to continuing the important work of his late brother “to preserve the country’s dignity and protect its security”.

His efforts have been lauded by leaders in the region and beyond. The UAE President, Sheikh Khalifa, congratulated Sheikh Nawaf on his inauguration as Emir. “We are looking forward with confidence and determination to work together for the good of our peoples and our Arab nation,” Sheikh Khalifa said.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, also congratulated Sheikh Nawaf after he took the oath of office in Parliament. “His humility, simplicity and closeness to his people are part of the values of the noble Al Sabah family,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “We wish well for the Kuwaiti people and their new leadership to continue on the path to glory, stability, safety and a good life.”

In a separate cable, UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed also congratulated Sheikh Nawaf on his inauguration as Emir. ''We are looking forward with confidence and determination to work together for the good of our peoples and our Arab nation," Sheikh Khalifa said.

Although he was allowed to take up to a year before naming his heir, Sheikh Nawaf took action swiftly, ending any speculation and uncertainty about the future leadership of his nation. The Crown Prince’s nomination was unanimously approved by Parliament yesterday, securing a smooth and peaceful transition of power at a pivotal time in Kuwaiti history. Sheikh Meshal had been deputy head of the National Guard since 2004, an institution revered in recent months for its role in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Following yesterday’s session, Kuwaiti Parliament is set to be dissolved ahead of elections scheduled for late November. Kuwait’s new leadership, at the helm of power and, soon, in Parliament, will begin its work at a challenging time.

Kuwait’s new leadership has remained united and strong, ensuring continuity despite difficult circumstances

The Gulf nation, which relies on exporting hydrocarbons to generate revenue, faces a liquidity crisis as restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus have driven both the demand and the price of oil down. Economies around the world are facing challenges, and clarity of vision will be vital to overcome them.

Kuwait's statesmen will be working hard to boost and diversify the economy, as well as to ensure that living standards do not deteriorate as a consequence of the pandemic.

Kuwait’s new leadership has remained united and strong, ensuring continuity despite difficult circumstances. Building on the legacy of Sheikh Sabah and the experience of Sheikh Nawaf, Kuwait can overcome the twin challenges of Covid-19 and the global economic downturn it has caused, and look forward to a brighter future.

Updated: October 8, 2020 09:24 PM

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