KUWAIT, Kuwaitis will mark 11 years since the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, stood before parliament, to take his oath of office as the 15th ruler of Kuwait.

Sheikh Sabah is a distinguished ruler, who received both executive and legislative backing, along with the support of the people at the start of his reign and continues to do so.

Born on June 16, 1929, the fourth son of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, was handpicked as a potentially astute statesman. After studying at the local Mubarakiya School, his father sent him to the West to pick up on diplomatic skills he would soon be able to master.

Upon his return in 1954, Sheikh Sabah was immediately handed the role of forming one of the sides of a committee, tasked with restructuring state bodies, despite being only 25 years old.

A year later, he was appointed head of the state social affairs and labour unit, a position he would later thrive in.

At a time of heavy regional and international labour migration into Kuwait, he was responsible for regulating the relationship between employee and business owner.

He was also behind the formation of specialist training centres, sports clubs, welfare centres for women, children, the elderly and special needs cases, and a traditional arts centre.

In 1957, after being tasked with overseeing the state publishing department, the first edition of the cultural magazine, Al-Arabi, was published.

It was to later become a huge hit amongst Arab readers and helped put Kuwait on the map as a serious advocate of culture and knowledge.

Two years after Kuwait’s independence in 1961, he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs – a position he would continue to fill over a 40-year period.

His reign as foreign minister was marked by numerous shifts and turbulent circumstances. But thanks to his wise judgement, the then minister, Sheikh Sabah, was able to steady the ship. After raising Kuwait’s flag for the first time at the United Nations in 1963, he immediately set out to cover his role with fervour, becoming instrumental in his policy.

His first task was to bring together the conflicting sides in Yemen’s civil war, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, who were backing separate sides in the struggle. All the parties were involved in reconciliation talks hosted by Kuwait.

As the fighting continued between the north and the south of Yemen, he later paid a visit to both, resulting in the signature of a peace agreement in 1972. In 1980 he also mediated reconciliation between Yemen and its western neighbour, Oman.

He was also faced with difficult regional conditions which he managed to sail through smoothly like the eight-year-old Iran-Iraq war of the 1980’s and Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait in 1990.

The role of forming a government, in place of Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah, was given to him in 2001, after which he was appointed prime minister, two years later. This is when his focus on economic affairs began. He launched a local fund for SMEs, in order to support the youth.

On international affairs, he looked eastwards to sign a total of 10 agreements, MoU’s and giant business projects with China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore in 2004.

In Jan, 2006, the former Amir, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah passed away. His successor was Sheikh Saad, however his extreme sickness prevented him from becoming ruler. It is then that the cabinet sat down to agree that Sheikh Sabah would be the new ruler – a decision that later received parliament’s backing as well.

The Amir’s development plans for Kuwait are truly underway. Some projects have been completed while some are in the pipeline, including Jaber Hospital, Mubarak Port, and the giant Jaber Bridge, which links the north to Kuwait City, Al-Zour refinery, and the new airport.

In Sept, 2014, and after Kuwait hosted three international conferences, which helped raise billions of dollars in an unprecedented step for humanitarian efforts on the Syrian refugee crisis, the Amir was handed a ‘Humanitarian Leader’ award by then UN chief, Ban Ki-moon.

Throughout his 11-year reign, the Amir oversaw the handing out of many other relief aid, grants and loans worth tens of millions, to nations around the world, particularly to the Palestinians and impoverished countries in Africa and Asia.

His love for his people was at its most evident when, moments after terrorists’ bombed Imam Al-Sadiq mosque, leaving behind 26 people dead, he showed up unguarded and unarmed, to oversee rescue efforts. It was then he made the famous quote “those are my children.” In 2016, the Amir continued to support the Syrian refugees, co-hosting the fourth international donors conference for Syria, which was held in the British capital in Feb.

Sheikh Sabah also took part in humanitarian world summit, which was held in Istanbul, Turkey, in May of 2016.

Late 2016, Sheikh Sabah added another milestone to his credential, receiving King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, on his first visit to Kuwait since becoming Monarch of Saudi Arabia.

Kuwait will rejoice on the day that their ruler celebrates eleven years in office. A humanitarian, a champion of the weak, a man of compassion and a patriot – long live the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.