The Emir of Kuwait passed away at the age of 91 on September 29 after battling a prolonged illness

Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, was a “beloved leader,” India’s “close friend” and a “great statesman,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said condoling the death of the Kuwaiti leader who ruled the Gulf nation for 14 years.

PM Modi said Kuwait Emir Al-Sabah had played a leading role in strengthening the bilateral relations between India and Kuwait.

PM Modi in a tweet said, “Today, the State of Kuwait and the Arab world has lost a beloved leader, India a close friend, and the world a great statesman. His Highness played a leading role in strengthening our bilateral relations, and always took special care of the Indian community in Kuwait.”

The Emir of Kuwait passed away at the age of 91 on September 29 after battling prolonged health disease. His treatment was going on in a hospital in the United States.

PM Modi said, “My heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait. In this moment of grief our thoughts are with the Al-Sabah family and the people of the State of Kuwait.”

Calling him a ‘great statesman,’ ‘humanitarian leader’ and ‘close friend of India,’ President Ram Nath Kovind wrote, “Deeply saddened at the demise of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait. He was a great statesman, humanitarian leader and close friend of India. My condolences to HH’s family, Kuwaiti Govt and its people in this time of grief.”

Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah was a celebrated leader across the Gulf region as the top diplomat of the oil-region region. He, during his tenure, pushed for closer ties with Iraq. He played a major role in resolving the 1990 Gulf War. He even served as a mediator to resolve issues between Qatar and other Arab nations.

The bilateral relationship between India and Kuwait saw a high during the tenure of Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah. The Emir of Kuwait visited India in his personal capacity and visited India in 2017. He was accompanied by the deputy chief of Kuwait National Guard, Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and was received by PM Modi along with other officials.

However, it was in 2006 that he visited India on an official visit to discuss various ways to strengthen the bilateral relationship between the two nations. Both sides decided to promote investment cooperation in sectors including petroleum and petrochemicals, fertilizers, energy, civil aviation and infrastructure in each other's countries by encouraging private and public sector participation.

Both sides had also intended to develop and expand cooperation between their respective oil countries. Cooperation was extended to the health and pharmaceutical sectors.

In fact, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, India sent its rapid response team to Kuwait in April this year. A team of 15 Indian doctors and health- care professionals visited Kuwait to supplement the efforts of the Government of Kuwait in the collective fight against global Covid-19 pandemic.

Kuwait has been one of the oldest partners and allies of India in the Gulf region.

According to External Affairs Ministry data, India was among the top ten trading partners of Kuwait during the Financial Year 2018-19. During this period, the bilateral trade between the two registered a 2.7 per cent rise and reached USD 8.76 billion higher than the USD 8.53 billion of the previous year.

India's exports to Kuwait included food items, cereals, textiles, garments, electrical and engineering equipment, ceramics, machinery and mechanical appliances, cars, trucks, buses, tyres, chemicals, jewellery, handicrafts, metal products and iron and steel, the data suggested.

Till 2019, Kuwait’s estimated investments in India stood at USD 3.5 billion, of which approximately USD 3 billion was by Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA).

India and Kuwait have signed several bilateral agreements including many in the science and space research sector. These include, MOU on S&T Cooperation between CSIR and Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), MOU on cooperation between KISR and Ministry of Earth Sciences (2014), and MOU between ISRO and KISR (2015).

Apart from that, Kuwait is a home to over 1 million members of the Indian community and India has one of the biggest Indian diaspora in this Gulf nation.