Kuwait and UK sign investment partnership after Crown Prince meets Rishi Sunak

Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Sabah arrived in the UK on Monday to celebrate 70 years of the Kuwait Investment Office

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak welcomes Kuwait's Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Sabah to Downing Street. EPA
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The UK and Kuwait signed an investment partnership after Kuwait's Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Sabah met Rishi Sunak at No 10 Downing Street.

Britain's Prime Minister “welcomed the historic and strong friendship between the UK and Kuwait, which has endured for 125 years”, a representative of Mr Sunak said.

“The leaders witnessed the signing of a new UK-Kuwait Investment Partnership which will drive significant new investment into UK industries and support Kuwait’s changing economy,” the representative added.

Sheikh Meshal and Mr Sunak also discussed defence, trade and investment.

Mr Sunak’s official spokesman said earlier that the Gulf nation was an “important partner for the UK and vice versa”.

The UK’s Department for Business and Trade said the deal would bring a “considerable boost” to the British economy over the next five years.

The partnership will facilitate the Kuwait Investment Authority – one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world – to invest directly into mutually beneficial sectors in the UK, including education, renewables, life sciences, and technology.

The accord was signed by Lord Dominic Johnson of Lainston, the UK’s minister for investment, and Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister Dr Saad Al Barrak in Downing Street, as the Crown Prince and Mr Sunak looked on.

Lord Johnson said it “marks a new chapter” in the British-Kuwaiti relations and would bring “new jobs and opportunities across UK life sciences, renewables, education and tech”.

The inking of the package comes weeks after Lord Johnson visited Kuwait for talks.

A Statement of Intent was also signed by both parties to collaborate on the creation of Kuwait’s national cyber security centre.

“The Kuwait Investment Office, established during the coronation year of Queen Elizabeth II, has today, in the coronation year of King Charles III, further cemented its role in the UK’s economy,” Lord Johnson said.

“We look forward to many more years of friendship and mutual success bringing new jobs and opportunities across some of the UK’s most exciting sectors.”

Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK’s minister for the Middle East, said the partnership is a sign of the robustness of UK-Kuwait relations.

“The UK has a long-standing and strong partnership with Kuwait that continues to go from strength to strength,” Lord Ahmed said.

“I welcome the bold and ambitious Investment Partnership agreement between our two countries, which will deliver significant investment into our economy and boost jobs.”

The Kuwait Investment Office has been central to making Kuwait one of the UK’s largest investors, Mr Sunak’s government said.

The signing of the agreement comes as the UK continues to engage with the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Kuwait, in the hope of signing a free-trade agreement, expected to increase trade by 16 per cent.

Sheikh Meshal arrived in the UK on Monday for a visit to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Kuwait Investment Office in London.

He was greeted by Bader Al Awadhi, Kuwait's ambassador to the UK, and Ghanem Al Ghenaiman, managing director of the Kuwait Investment Authority.

Sheikh Meshal has been accompanied on his trip to London by government officials including the Deputy Prime Minister, Oil Minister, Foreign Minister, Economic and Investment Minister and acting Finance Minister.

Mr Al Awadhi praised Mr Sunak’s government for inviting the Crown Prince and said the visit would boost ties between the countries.

“His Highness’ visit will strengthen the existing relations between Kuwait and Britain and will open new horizons for co-operation in the economic, security and cultural fields in a way that will reflect the reality of the strategic relations,” Mr Al Awadhi said in a statement to the Kuwait News Agency.

The meeting comes weeks after Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly met Sheikh Meshal and high-ranking officials at Al Bayan Palace in Kuwait City, during a three-day tour of the Middle East.

Strengthening defence relations with Kuwait was high on the agenda of Mr Cleverly’s trip.

Chairwoman of the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce Baroness Elizabeth Symons of Vernham Dean said having the Kuwait Investment Office in London for the past seven decades showed the strength of Kuwaiti-British relations.

She welcomed the UK’s decision to include Kuwaiti citizens in a new streamlined system that aims to make travel to Britain easier.

An Electronic Travel Authorisation system will be launched for visitors from Qatar in October and from other Gulf nations, as well as Jordan, in February.

It will cost £10 ($12.50) to apply and recipients will be allowed to visit Britain several times over a two-year period.

Under the existing system, citizens of Gulf countries have to pay £30 per visit to the UK, while travellers from Jordan have to spend £100 to obtain a visit visa.

Updated: August 30, 2023, 12:18 PM