Kuwait and the Netherlands Meet at Kuwait National and Liberation Day
H.E. Mr. Abdelouahab Bellouki, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco, H.E. Ambassador Shamlan Al Roomi of Kuwait and H.E. Mr. Taher Farahat, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
By Shirley Cottaar.
Every year aside from their National Day, Kuwait also celebrates it’s Liberation Day. This official public holiday is celebrated in honor of the country’s independence from Iraq after the first Gulf War. This day is celebrated by the whole country with pride and salutation as the country was able to make a stand and run on it’s own.
On 22 February 2017 H.E. Ambassador Shamlan Al Roomi of Kuwait hosted a reception celebrating the 56 National and 26 Liberation Day of Kuwait in the Grand Hotel Amrâth Kurhaus. During this special evening full of hospitality and a delicious buffet with typical Kuwait dishes, Diplomat Magazine got an insight in the relation between the two countries.
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How did the political relations between the countries developed during the years?
We maintain direct contact through annual political consultations in the frame of the Memorandum of Understanding on Political consultations signed in Kuwait in 2013 by our Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
For example in 2014 our countries celebrated 50 years of bilateral relations. In May 2014 His Excellency Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs paid an official visit to the Netherlands at the invitation of Minister Frans Timmermans.
The Minister was accompanied by an economic delegation from Kuwait Investment Authority an Kuwait Petroleum Corporation ( KPC ). In the same year Henk Kamp, Minister of Economic Affairs of The Netherlands, paid an official visit to Kuwait at the invitation of Dr Ali Al-Omair, Minister of Oil. Mr Kamp was accompanied by a trade mission of approximately 20 businesses and knowledge institutions from the infrastructure and energy sectors.
Kuwait is very pleased with the good longstanding relations between our two friendly countries which is an excellent foundation for further strengthening and opening wider horizons of cooperation at all levels. We share similar perceptions and positions on many international issues such as development, food security, world peace and security.
How is the commercial exchange between the two countries and how about the energy projects?
We have good trade relations with the Netherlands. We are currently working to set up a Joint Committee and the Netherlands is being promoted as an investment country and we are pleased with the fact that the Netherlands is the major trade partner of our country within the EU. In fact the value of our exports to the Netherlands – which is about 2.5 billion Euros (2015) – represents nearly 50% of our total exports to the EU. Exports value to the Netherlands is 1.9 billion Euros (Mainly fuels) and Imports value from the Netherlands is 627 Millions (Food products, animal, mach and elec, chemicals and vegetable).
Kuwait runs an impressive investment programme. It has earmarked around $108 billion over the next few years for energy projects and improvements to its infrastructure. Plans include a deep-sea port, renovation and expansion of the airport, a new railway and metro line and construction of several hospitals and a new university.
These government projects present outstanding opportunities for the Dutch business community. In the past few years, several trade missions have visited Kuwait to promote Dutch businesses as participants in these projects.
One of the most important megaprojects is the construction of a new deep seaport on Boubyan Island, which will have an expected annual capacity of 2.5 million containers. There are opportunities here for Dutch dredging companies and, at a later stage, Dutch suppliers. Dutch engineering firms are also working on projects to expand the capacity of Kuwait’s ports and airports.
In 2016 the Dutch company Van Oord successfully executed the impressive ground improvement project for client Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC). The project, which started in 2014, involved the reclamation of 65million cubic meters of sand and extensive soil improvement. The reclamation area exceeds 1,320 ha and is intended for one of the largest oil refining plants in the Middle East
Upon completion, the Al-Zour Refinery will produce 615,000 barrels per day and has a strategic goal of supplying low-sulphur fuel. The refinery will be constructed on the reclaimed land in a ‘sabkha area’, a salt plain near the coast, 30 kilometres north of the Saudi border. The reclamation project, executed by Van Oord, was the first phase of KNPC’s investment programme for this new refinery.
Van Oord continues its work in Kuwait as subcontractor on KNPC Package 5 project. The project comprises land reclamation for the construction of a port and the first phase of a LNG import facility.
In December 2016, a strong delegation consisting of 17 Dutch companies specialized in serving the oil & gas industry visited Kuwait to explore new business opportunities and enhance collaborations in the field of oil and gas
The delegation was headed by Dutch Ambassador Potuyt, and held meetings with the subsidiaries of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), to name PIC, KNPC, KOC, KGOC, and KUFPEC. The Dutch companies presented their unique products, decades of knowledge, and innovative techniques during fruitful meetings with senior officials and specialists.
There is a group of Kuwaiti students in the Netherlands, in which areas are they studying and how many?
I can say that Kuwait is very keen to deepen relations in the field of education with the Netherlands. In the frame of enhancing mutual cultural and educational cooperation, we are convinced that such cooperation shall contribute to the development of our relations and improve mutual understanding and friendship.
In 2013 the Kuwaiti Ministry of Higher Education accredited all courses offered by Dutch universities for this scheme. There are approximately 40 Kuwaiti students in the Netherlands (Medicine, Agricultural Engineering and Business management ) Kuwait is considering sending more students to the Netherlands to pursue their higher education in the Netherlands.