Kuwait gripped by contrasting emotions

October 16, 2012

Kuwait mirrored a city of two tales on Tuesday. In one part of the capital, Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah launched an initiative to set up a $2-billion (Dh7.34 billion) fund for several Asian countries confronted with formidable development challenges. There was also anger in some quarters after a protest against a move to amend the electoral law on Monday led to police action.

Kuwait made history by bringing together leaders from 32 nations for the summit of the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), an organisation formed in 2002 but hitherto confined to ministerial-level deliberations. Expectations are high that the new impetus will help the forum transform into a well-structured organisation representing countries in Asia. Kuwait said it was ready to host the headquarters of the organisation.

The Kuwaiti initiative has set the ACD on its way to becoming a full-fledged organisation in a continent that is home to 60 per cent of the global population. Kuwait pledged $300 million to the proposed fund for the ACD with Shaikh Sabah urging other countries to make generous contributions that will help fellow Asian countries held back for a want of finances.

For Kuwait, the hosting of the summit is no mean feat and points to a robust campaign to market the country as a regional financial and commercial hub. “Kuwait is bound to reap great benefits from the bilateral agreements with Asian countries,” said Adnan Al Dailami, an economist. “Thanks to its impressive financial and human potential, Kuwait can indeed turn into a trade and financial hub,” he said, quoted by Kuwait News Agency (Kuna).

Mohammad Al Tarrah, an economic expert, said the ACD summit was an opportunity for an exchange of expertise and views between the various member states. “Kuwait can benefit by importing advanced technology to serve the local economy,” he said. “At the same time, Asian countries can benefit from Kuwaiti capital to launch projects. They can also benefit from Kuwaiti oil as mutual interests bring nations and people closer,” he said.

Across the city, the opposition was trying to highlight the clashes that marred a rally on Monday evening to heap pressure on the authorities not to amend the controversial 2006 electoral law. Four people, including the son of the former parliament speaker, were arrested following clashes between the police and demonstrators at the end of the rally. The rally organisers said that the young men were roughed up by the police despite their peaceful protest.

However, the Interior Ministry said that some demonstrators had resorted to acts of violence and rioted outside the area allocated for the rally. “Traffic was disrupted and people’s interests were stalled by the acts,” the ministry said in a statement. “The police exercised the highest levels of self-restraint. However, the rioters, under a carefully prepared plan, clashed with the police and hurled stones and bottles at them. They also brought down barriers, resulting in policemen and demonstrators getting hurt and being taken to hospital for treatment.”

The police arrested those who caused the disturbances or attacked law enforcement officers. Some organisers of the rally were also rounded up outside the allocated area, the police said. News of the arrests soon had the opposition raising the pitch for the release of detainees.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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