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Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah

Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah, GCB, GCMG of the al-Sabah dynasty, was the Emir of Kuwait and Commander of the Military of Kuwait; serving from 31 December 1977 until his death on 15 January 2006 due to cerebral hemorrhage. The third monarch to rule Kuwait since its independence from Britain, Jaber had previously served as minister of finance and Economy from 1962 until 1965. He was appointed Prime Minister in December 1965, after his cousin, Sheikh Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah, became Emir and then became crown prince in May 1966. Upon his cousin's death he succeeded him as Emir. When Sabah as Salim died in December 1977, he was succeeded by Shaykh Jabir al Ahmad aljabir Al Sabah, a succession that returned the former pattern of alternation between the lines ofJabir and Salim.

Although the Al Sabah remained paramount, the family as a ruling institution had changed dramatically since it assumed its leading role in the mid-eighteenth century. First, succession patterns within the family had changed. In the nineteenth century, rule passed regularly from father to son.

With the accession of Mubarak in the late nineteenth century, a new pattern was established that excluded all but Mubarak's line from the top position. This custom is formalized in the Kuwaiti constitution and in practice created a new pattern of alternation of rulers between the two lines of Mubarak's sons, Jabir and Salim. It was in keeping with this pattern that Shaykh Jabir al Ahmad (from the Jabir line) named as his crown prince and heir apparent Saad al Abd Allah as Salim, from the Salim line.

Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who was born in 1926 in Kuwait and died on January 15, 2006 after being in power for 29 years, was the country's 13th ruler, and the third Amir in the state's constitutional era, which began with signing the Constitution on November 11, 1962, by the Amir Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah.

Since he came to power in 1977, the Amir Sheikh Jaber, led the country to development and progress in all domains and on all levels, and enhanced its status on political, economic and charitable arenas across the globe.

In 1979, following the Islamic revolution in Iran, and demonstrations among the Shiias of Kuwait, Jaber imposed restrictions on the press in Kuwait. The Amir was so keen to establish balanced bilateral relations with the world; his leadership helped Kuwait overcome challenges and address crises it faced, mainly in the 1980s and 1990s of the last century.

During his tenure, Kuwait witnessed an urban renaissance and development in all sectors and general utilities, with a successive pace. He paid much attention to the Kuwaiti youth. This was manifested in 1992, when the Public Authority for Youth and Sports was founded and entrusted with caring for the affairs of Kuwaiti young people and promoting their physical and mental capabilities.

Shaykh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Amir of Kuwait for nearly 28 years, led the country through some of its most tumultuous periods, including the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. His foresight in investing oil revenues in the unique Fund for Future Generations proved critical in his efforts to garner international support for the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation in 1991. On the plight of the Iraqi invasion, Sheikh Jaber's wisdom and experience have managed to mobilize big support by sisterly and friendly countries to drive the Iraqi troops out of the country and liberate the entire homeland. Due to his wisdom and the support of Kuwaitis, the State of Kuwait resumed the renaissance march, achievements and reconstruction, and removed all traces of the Iraqi invasion. He paid much attention to the martyrs' children through establishing the Martyrs Bureau on June 19, 1991. He also spared no efforts on the release of Kuwaitis held by the Iraqi regime.

He also presided over an unprecedented period of economic prosperity, which contributed to Kuwait's emergence as a regional economic player. Shaykh Jaber was also a strong supporter of women's suffrage legislation, which he introduced by amiri decree to the National Assembly in 1999; initially rejected by Parliament, women were finally given full political rights in May 2005.

Among the prominent institutions established during Sheikh Jaber's reign were the Public Authority for Social Insurance to secure dignified living conditions for the elderly, and the Reserve Fund for Future Generations, which benefited the Kuwaiti people during the Iraqi invasion.

On the political level, the Amir launched several initiatives on Gulf, Arab and international levels, and suggested the idea of establishing the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which mirrored his keenness on the joint cohesion and common destiny to face foreign challenges and political blocs.

In the 1996 GCC Doha Summit, Sheikh Jaber suggested the formation of a 30-member consultative council in order to provide proposals to the GCC leaders to promote the process of decision-making.

The Amir also prioritized Muslim and Arab issues as he proposed the establishment of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development in 1961. He chaired the board of directors of this institution, which offered financial support to development efforts not only in the Arab world but in many others. He also dropped interest of debts due on poor countries The Amir was keen on taking part in several conferences and meetings across the globe, and paid many official visits to enhance Kuwait's status globally.

The relationship between the ruling family and Kuwaiti society also changed in subtle ways. Members of the family other than the ruler, once first among equals in a society where merchants and other elites played an important role in decision making, became in the years after oil was discovered far wealthier because their wealth was guaranteed by a civil list a list of sums appropriated to pay the expenses of a ruler and his household. Ruling family members also became socially more prominent and politically more important as they took over many of the state's highest posts. In part, this transformation occurred as a result of the emergence of a large state bureaucracy and the need Kuwaiti rulers felt to fill the state's highest posts with loyal supporters, notably kin.

In a poll conducted by a London-based media institution in 1995, Sheikh Jaber was chosen as the humanitarian personality of the year among five million Arabs, in recognition of his charitable actions and financial support for many global institutions.

Although most pictures of the Amir continued to depict him in good health and with black hair, when he returned to Kuwait in 2004, his beard and hair were gray and undyed.

While the cause of death was not announced, it is likely the Amir died of natural causes related to a stroke he suffered in 2001 and his long battle with Parkinson's disease. Shaykh Jaber reportedly married more than 30 times and had an estimated - sources differ - 23 sons and 15 daughters. Although his death is not unexpected, Kuwaitis were deeply saddened and moved by the loss of a ruler widely loved and honored for his generosity and humility. Kuwaitis remembered him fondly as a good Amir who led Kuwait through times of both feast and famine.

According to the Kuwaiti constitution, Crown Prince Shaykh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah succeeded the Amir. The Crown Prince was also in very poor health and most observers believed he will quickly abdicate and Prime Minister Shaykh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, half brother of the deceased Amir, will become Amir.

'The Amir of Hearts' was engraved in all people's minds and hearts; as several places were named after him like Jaber Al-Ahmad Hospital, Jaber Al-Ahmad Armed Forces Hospital, Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium, Jaber Al-Ahmad City, Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Center, Jaber Al-Ahmad Causeway and others.

Furthermore, many places in several countries were named after him, in recognition of his status in the hearts of many people not only in Kuwait but also in many Arab and Muslim states.

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Page last modified: 09-09-2019 19:03:25 ZULU