|KUWAIT NEW RULER - WORLD'S LONGEST SERVING DIPLOMAT
15 February 2006
In a smooth, open and participatory transition of power in the state of Kuwait, a popularly-elected Parliament
confirmed Sheikh Sabah Al Almed Al Jaber Al Subah as the new Emir. The new ruler is well known at United Nations
Headquarters in New York since he raised his country's flag as a member in 1962. He has since attended every session
of the General Assembly, making him the longest serving Minister of Foreign Affairs in the world. Even after he
became Prime Minister, the smiling amenable Sheikh Sabah made a point of attending at least the opening few days of
each session. Particularly when Kuwait was a non-permanent Security Council member in 1978, he played a distinguished
role in working for consensus decisions on delicate issues and unanimity on resolutions. Under his guidance, the
country played a pivotal role in advancing economic and social development through the galaxy of U.N. programs and
agencies. Equally pleasant and thorough, Sheikh Sabah gained many friends for his country. His unflinching support for
the United Nations as a symbol of international legitimacy proved most valuable when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.
Mobilizing all resources, under the guidance of the late Emir, his strategy was to sharpen the focus on the United
Nations role. An unanimous position, fully backed by the five permanent members, authorized Desert Storm in which
several Arab countries like Syria, Saudi Arabia and Qatar actively participated under the U.N. flag.
As Prime Minister, he proved to be a practical reformer, a modernist who worked with members of parliament to pass
modernizing steps carefully yet surely. One of his most striking measures was in ensuring equal rights for women; it
was rejected at first by parliament but, with enlightened persistence, eventually approved. His progressive hand was
noted in recently designating Ms. Nabeela Al Mulla as Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the U.N. -- the first
female Arab Ambassador in New York.