India and Kuwait enjoy traditionally friendly relations. These are based in history and have stood the test of time. Geographic proximity, historical trade links, cultural affinities and presence of a large number of Indian expatriates continue to sustain and nurture this long standing relationship. India has been a natural trading partner and a destination for higher learning. Until 1961, the Indian Rupee was the legal tender in Kuwait. High level visits from India to Kuwait have included those by Hon’ble Vice President of India Dr. Zakir Husain in 1965, by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1981 and by Hon’ble Vice President of India Shri M Hamid Ansari in 2009. High level visits from Kuwait to India have included those by HH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah in November 1964, HH the Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in 1980 and again in 1983 (for the NAM Summit), and HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in 2006.
Visit of Hon’ble Vice President of India
The official visit of the Hon’ble Vice President of India Shri M Hamid Ansari, accompanied by Smt. Salma Ansari, to Kuwait took place from April 6-8, 2009 at the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Crown Prince of the State of Kuwait. During the visit, Vice President called on His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of the State of Kuwait, and had substantive discussions with him and HH the Crown Prince. Acting Prime Minister and First DPM/Defence Minister HE Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, DPM/Foreign Minister HE Sheikh (Dr.) Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, Minister of Oil HE Sheikh Ahmed Abdullah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, Minister of Finance HE Mr Mustafa Jassim Al-Shimali called on our Vice President during his stay in Kuwait to discuss matters of mutual interest.
Three agreements were signed during the visit - Educational Exchange Programme for the period 2009-2011, Agreement on Cooperation in Science & Technology and Cultural Exchange Programme for the period 2009-2011. From the Kuwaiti side, the first two agreements were signed by the Minister of Education HE Mrs Nouriya Subeeh Barrak Al-Subeeh and the last one by Minister of Information H.E. Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. From the Indian side, all the three agreements were signed by the Ambassador of India to Kuwait
Hon’ble Vice President addressed the Kuwaiti business community at a function organized by the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He also interacted with the Indian community in Kuwait at a reception hosted by the Ambassador of India to Kuwait. Vice President accompanied by Smt. Ansari, visited the Grand Mosque and the Kuwait Scientific Centre. Smt. Ansari paid separate visits to Sadu House, Tareq Rajab Museum and Kuwait Towers. Hon’ble Vice President was received and seen off at the Kuwait airport by His Highness the Crown Prince accompanied by the Acting Prime Minister and other senior Kuwaiti dignitaries including the Deputy Chief of the National Guard Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh (Dr.) Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, Advisor at the Amiri Diwan and head of the honorary mission Mr. Mohammad Abdullah Abulhassan, Governors and other senior officials.
Visit of High Highness the Amir of Kuwait
His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of the State of Kuwait, visited India from June 14-19, 2006, accompanied by senior Ministers and officials. HH the Amir held talks with the President, the Vice President and the Prime Minister of India. In New Delhi HH the Amir addressed a luncheon meeting of representatives of apex Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry ASSOCHAM, CII and FICCI. In Mumbai, HH the Amir met the Governor of Maharashtra and addressed a meeting organised by CII. Three Agreements were concluded during the visit. These were (i) Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income (DTAA); (ii) Agreement on Drug Demand Reduction and Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Precursor Chemicals and Related Matters; and (iii) Executive Programme for the Cultural and Information Exchanges between India and Kuwait for the years 2006 – 2008.
EAM’s visit to Kuwait
Minister of External Affairs of India Shri S. M. Krishna visited Kuwait on February 3-4, 2010, during which he met HH the Amir, HH the Prime Minister, and HE the Deputy PM and Foreign Minister. This stand-alone visit to Kuwait was EAM’s first visit to the Gulf region since taking charge as Minister of External Affairs. He also expressed hope that India would soon become a permanent member of the UNSC. EAM was accompanied by Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, Ms. V. Latha Reddy.
Other Recent High Level Exchanges
Mr. Faisal Al Hajji Bukhadour, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs of Kuwait accompanied by the Under Secretary of Civil Service Commission Mr. Mohammed Al Roomi paid an official visit to India to meet his counterpart, Minister of State for Personnel from February 3-7, 2009. He also met Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri E. Ahmed. The Foreign Minister Sheikh (Dr.) Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah visited India in August 2004. During the visit, three bilateral agreements were signed including the India-GCC Framework Agreement for Economic Cooperation. Other visits to India include those of Dr. Ismael Khudhur Shatti, the then Minister of Communications on June 28, 2006 and Engr. Falah Fahed Mohammad Al-Hajri, Minister of Commerce and Industry to Bangalore to attend the CII Partnership Summit in Bangalore on January 17-19, 2007.
From India, recent visits include those of Minister of State for External Affairs Mr. E. Ahamed on April 16-17, 2006 on a bilateral visit; on October 16, 2006 for meetings with the Kuwaiti leadership; on November 26-27, 2006 to co-Chair the first meeting of the Kuwait-India Joint Ministerial Commission; on March 10, 2006 to canvas for India’s bid to host the 17th Asian Games in Delhi in 2014; from January 29-31, 2008; and on May 15, 2008 to convey condolences on the demise of the Father Amir His Highness Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah on behalf of Government of India to the Royal Family and the people of Kuwait. Shri S M Krishna, Minister of External Affairs, India, also paid a transit visit to Kuwait enroute to attend the 15th NAM Summit at Sharm El Sheikh and spent a night in Kuwait on July 12/13, 2009
The Minister of Oil and Minister of Information of Kuwait, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah visited India from September 25-28, 2010. He called on the Vice-President and Prime Minister of India, besides meeting Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Information and Broadcasting. Minister Abdullah also held discussions with top officials of ONGC and IOC. He inaugurated the "Sabah Cultural Library" at the India Arab Cultural Centre in Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi - the first and largest cultural project by Kuwait in India. The library would be supplied by Kuwaiti publications in corporation with Kuwaiti Ministry of Information, Kuwait News Agency, KISR and Kuwait University.
India and Kuwait share common perceptions on various regional and international issues and have cooperated in regional and international fora. There have been several high level discussions and consultations at political and senior diplomatic levels as well as exchange of visits between the two countries.
India and Kuwait have signed various Agreements to provide a framework for the development of bilateral relations. These include:
India – GCC
Kuwait is an active member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), while India and the GCC are dialogue partners. India-GCC Political Dialogues are held annually on the margins of the UNGA in New York, while three India-GCC Industrial Conferences have also taken place so far.
Joint Ministerial Commission
An “Agreement between India and Kuwait for the promotion of Economic, Commercial and Technical Cooperation” was signed in Kuwait in February 1992 during the visit of then EAM Shri Madhavsinh Solanki. At the same time both sides also agreed to set up an “India-Kuwait Joint Ministerial Commission on Economic and Technical Cooperation”. During the visit of the Amir to India in June 2006, it was decided that the Joint Commission for Economic and Commercial Cooperation would hold its first meeting in the last quarter of 2006.
Accordingly, the first meeting of the India-Kuwait Joint Ministerial Commission for Trade and Economic Cooperation took place in Kuwait on November 25-27, 2006. The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. E. Ahamed, Minister of State for External Affairs on the Indian side and Mr. Bader Meshari Al-Homeidhi, Finance Minister from the Kuwaiti side. Discussions were held in four Working Groups dealing with Labour and Employment; Trade, Investment and Finance; Energy, Petroleum, Petrochemicals and Fertilisers; and Science & Technology, Information Technology and Communications, Health and Education.
The second meeting of the India-Kuwait Joint Ministerial Commission was held in New Delhi on July 1-3, 2008. It was co-chaired by Mr. E. Ahamed, Minister of State for External Affairs from India and Mr. Mustafa Jassim Al-Shamali, Minister of Finance from Kuwait. Among the notable decisions of the JMC include forming of a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Hydrocarbons and setting up of a technical level mechanism to review the implementation of the decisions arrived at the Joint Ministerial Commission Meeting.
Subsequently, the first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Hydrocarbons was held in December 2009 in Kuwait. The second meeting of the Joint Working Group on Labour, Employment and Manpower Development was convened in Kuwait in January 2010. In order to move forward the process of this JWG, India and Kuwait signed a document on August 17, 2010 which aims at further strengthening bilateral cooperation in employment and manpower development by regulating recruitment in a legal and orderly way as also to address the entire range of concerns of Indian domestic sector and private sector workers in Kuwait.
Culture, Science & Technology and Education
In the field of culture, education, science & technology and media, there have been series of regular exchanges between Kuwait and India. A Cultural Exchange Programme, a MoU in the field of Science & Technology and a Memorandum of Understanding between Kuwait University and Jamia Millia Islamia provide a framework for regular exchanges. During the visit of His Highness the Amir in June 2006, an Executive Programme for Cultural and Information Exchanges for 2006-08 was signed. During the Hon’ble Vice President of India’s visit to Kuwait in April 2009, the Executive Programme for Cultural and Information Exchanges for 2009-11 was signed. Cultural troupes have also been frequently exchanged. An agreement to cooperate in the field of Science and Technology was also signed during the visit.
The Embassy of India, Kuwait organised an Indian Film Festival from April 2-5, 2008 when three films were screened. Kuwaiti Minister of Information inaugurated the event. A “Festival of India in Kuwait” was organized from November 8-14, 2009, co-hosted by the Indian Ministry of Culture and the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters, State of Kuwait. It provided glimpses of performing arts and visual arts from various regions of India. The Festival was held across multiple venues in Kuwait, such as the Kaifan Auditorium, the Grand Mosque Auditorium, Al-Sadu House, Al-Fanoon Hall, Discovery Centre, and the Avenues Mall. It was inaugurated by the Minister of Oil and Minister of Information of Kuwait. It included cultural performances and exhibitions at multiple venues by a 130 strong contingent from India arranged by the Ministry of Culture. The festival showcased performances by renowned musicians and dancers from India, and included displays of contemporary art, folk art, textiles, photographs, calligraphy, dolls, as well as puppet shows.
An Indian Food Festival was organized by the Embassy of India at the landmark Kuwait Towers from April 1-7, 2010. Tourism to India was promoted by India’s participation in the Travel World Expo held in Kuwait in May 2009 and 2010.
On October 2, 2010, a “Qawwali Evening” by the illustrious “Nizami Bandhu” was organized at the Embassy, which was attended by several Kuwaiti dignitaries, Ambassadors, and members of the Indian community in Kuwait
Indian Community in Kuwait
According to the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior, there are approximately 700,000 Indians, who constitute the largest expatriate community in Kuwait. The Indian community is regarded as the community of first preference among the expatriates in Kuwait. Kuwait views India as a fast growing economy and a source of highly qualified professional and technical personnel. A large proportion of the Indian expatriates are unskilled and semi-skilled workers. Professionals like engineers, doctors, chartered accountants, scientists, software experts, management consultants, architects; skilled workers like technicians and nurses; semi-skilled workers; retail traders and businessmen are also present in the Indian community.
Of late, there has been an increase in the number of highly qualified Indian experts in hi-tech areas, especially in the software and financial sector in Kuwait. In the field of health, India not only supplies top specialists but also para-medical staff who enjoy high reputation.
The total remittance from Kuwait to India is estimated to be upwards of US$ 3 billion annually
Approximately 300 associations exist within the Indian community in Kuwait, representing a variety of regional, professional and cultural interests. Of these, 128 Associations are presently registered with the Embassy. Cultural events are organized regularly by these associations through the year, to which leading Indian artistes are often invited.
There are 18 Indian Schools in Kuwait affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi.
Rahul Gandhi meets with His Highness the Amir, His Highness the Crown Prince and His Highness the Prime Minister
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received the visiting Secretary General of the All India Congress Committee Rahul Gandhi and his accompanying delegation at Bayan Palace on Tuesday, 5th May, in the presence of His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
Following his meeting and discussions with the Amir, Mr. Gandhi and his accompanying delegation met with His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah at Al-Sief Palace. The meeting was attended by the Under-Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Diwan, Sheikh Fahad Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
Mr. Gandhi and his accompanying delegation was earlier received at the airport by Deputy Minister at the Amiri Diwan Affairs, Sheikh Ali Jarah Al-Sabah.