The late Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed Al-Sabah [Jaabir Ala’hmad Al’sabaa’h], who passed away on January 15 , 2006 was a man of rare qualities. The entire nation wholeheartedly mourned him, and his absence will be missed at all levels in Kuwait forever, the country he had dedicated his life to serve sincerely in times of need and abundance. He was an extraordinary man with a vision and a mission.
Listening and reading about his achievements in the media - during the mourning days after the shocking news of his departure - by experts who had worked closely with him, had awakened the eyes of the Kuwaitis and the world at large to a fact that the Emir was a man of a special calibre, an extraordinary figure.
He was not only a ruler but a genuine compassionate father who cared for every citizen as if he were his own son or daughter. How many citizens in this world could address their leaders by that name and call them that? I guess very few. His love and compassion for Kuwait and the people of Kuwait were exemplary, unique and quite rare.
Many would argue that the incredible influx of wealth from petrodollars that the country had made all the difference, and there was no need to struggle to get projects of development in progress. That is not true at all. Many countries in the world enjoy larger oil revenues by far, have massive populations that would create a real effective workforce if educated and enlightened, larger lands, countries with vast civilisations deep-rooted in history, greater fortunes, highly-educated citizens, yet this small country was able to engrave its name with pride and assurance in the world scene at political, economic and social levels.
The late Emir had humble education, and no wealth early on . When his nation was destined to become one of the wealthiest nations in the world, that new status did not blur his vision and did not deter his determination and strong belief in God and his people to pursue his plans to secure brighter and secure future for the people he was entrusted to rule.
Driven by a strong will, armoured with a belief in God Almighty and inspired by the holy book of ‘Qura~n, (a book laden with remarkable humanitarian values), with complete honesty with himself and in his people, with the genuine humility of a believer in God, the late Emir was able to practice genuine human kindness and spread it amongst his people.
He loved us and we loved him back, not only in words but also in deeds, without false pretences. Thanks to this great leader who had a rare blend of qualities: generosity, modesty and wisdom; who had left a country, after a reign of thirty years, with well established institutions and doctrines ensuring many comforts to its citizens in all fields and at all ages.
We all love him and respect him and will always cherish his memory as long as we will live. He was part of our lives. We could sense his concern for our daily needs as ordinary human beings. The basic needs for Kuwaitis are well guarded: housing, education, hospitalization and old age. The simple formula of what human decency in this life is all about.
Simple words that require hard work and genuine selfless dedication that leaders like the late Jaber Al-Ahmed were endowed with. His relentless struggle in all circles regionally and worldwide when the invasion of our beloved country Kuwait occurred on the black of Thursday August 2nd, 1990. He, with his wisdom and patience, and with all the nation supporting him and believing in his genuine intentions had led the way back to safety marking the re-birth of a war-stricken land. His efforts and strong belief in the abilities of his people to rebuild the country never wavered.
Truly he was a rare man of rare qualities. Leaders must be chosen to be like that, and better. Democracy, the power of people as it stands for, or Al-Shoura, allow the people to choose and elect rulers like his calibre and even better. Of course, the oil revenues had helped enormously and the legislations or opposing opinions had hampered the progress of execution of laws in many instances, but with sincere intentions and a talent to rule with compassion, he had utilised the oil revenues or surpluses to finance long-sighted plans that would ensure security and decent lives for his people.
Such wise and fair rulers should be studied to discover how they have secured their people’s dignity and stability at all levels at all times: in times of need and times of abundance. I strongly believe, even without the oil revenues such wise leaders who love their countries would have found ways - even with limited resources - to secure decent and stable lives for their people.
I hope that the myriad of achievements and the qualities this leader had, which enabled him to lead his country, would be documented and made available to Kuwaitis and readers from all around the world. The leader who has brought the name of a small land to the limelight, and had it recognised and respected by the wealthiest and the greatest powers in the world in the twentieth century - the age of greed, selfishness and materialistic interests - must be indeed a phenomenon worth examining and recording.
He was indeed a unique man. The most vicious and malicious men of the world would only bow with respect to this humble man, who with few words, but with outstanding vision and innumerable remarkable deeds, gave a global recognition to a small country called … Kuwait.
May God Almighty bestow His mercy upon our late Emir and rest his soul in peace: His name will be engraved in our hearts and in the hearts of our children as the man who loved his country unconditionally.