“I felt like I was in Bhutan listening to His Majesty’s national address. I felt very homely and blessed and His Majesty’s golden words, especially on how to present ourselves as Bhutanese will be my guide hence forth.” These are the words of Khandu from Thimphu, working at Food Choice, Kuwait, as she shared her feelings about His Majesty’s audience with Bhutanese working in Kuwait. “It is a day I will never forget and I was very excited and emotional,” she said, adding that she has now realized the duties and responsibilities of citizens.
And the emotional part was best summed up by Pema Tshomo. “I cried because our King said that he has failed to keep us all in Bhutan. His Majesty also said that he could not do anything for us. And this clearly indicated how much His Majesty is concerned about us, especially the youth,” Pema shared, after His Majesty the King granted an audience to Bhutanese working in Kuwait on January 17, 2023.
An employee working for McDonald’s Kuwait Al Mausherfi Catering Company, Pema added that His Majesty personified the parents of all Bhutanese working in Kuwait. “I could see and feel the concern His Majesty has for us. And when I told my friends from other countries about what our King said, they were surprised. They said that no King or leader in modern times would have that kind of empathy and compassion and that Bhutan is fortunate.” The same was shared by Jigdrel, another Bhutanese working in the same company.
Samdrup, who left for Kuwait five years back said that though he knew that His Majesty was visiting Kuwait, he never thought that he would get the opportunity to interact with His Majesty. “In Thimphu, I have heard about Royal Audience several times, but never did I think that one day I would also get the opportunity,” Samdrup said. On his takeaways from the audience, Samdrup said that he is not just inspired but also reassured.
“We have witnessed His Majesty’s love and compassion during the COVID 19 pandemic, where we realized that our King is extraordinary. Today, I am reassured that even if there is no one to look after us, we have His Majesty the King. I will work hard here, return with skills and serve my country,” he added.
Khena from Samtse, who has been working in Kuwait for the last four years said that she was honored and privileged for having availed the opportunity to be part of the Royal audience. “All Bhutanese here were blessed by His Majesty’s motivational speech. It goes without saying that Bhutan is what it is because of our Kings,” she said.
Tila Chand Paurel, working at Sultan Center, as Business Control Manager of the Supply Chain Department also said that he is inspired, proud and excited. “It was a special moment and I am really inspired. It is the best moment I have had in my 8-year-stay in Kuwait,” he said.
For Maya Ghalley, 29, who has been working in Kuwait for four years, “it was a dream come true.” An employee of Americana, she had never seen His Majesty personally. “I am out of words. I could not control my tears. I do not know how to express myself, but I am really inspired now,” she said.
Choney Lhamo, working at Costa Coffee, Kuwait, also said that the entire Bhutanese community in Kuwait are extremely fortunate. Choney who has been in Kuwait for five years said that as soon as she heard about His Majesty’s visit and the Royal Audience they began to apply for leave. “I cannot forget the 17th of January 2023 as it is the first time that I have spoken to my King. I am more than inspired and the royal gift that we received is priceless,” she said. Choney added that her friends at the Café began to ask a lot of questions about His Majesty, after she told them about the Royal Audience and the gifts. “I felt very proud telling them about His Majesty,” she added.
Pema Dema , working at Courtyard Marriott company said she felt very emotional. “Working in a foreign land and having His Majesty visit was like our parents coming to us,” she said. “Had I not been working in Kuwait, I would not meet King. It was my first time. His Majesty soothed our homesick mood.”
Aita Maya Gurung, working at Universal food company and has been there for 4years and 4 months said that the moment “she saw the message in the Bhutanese association group that His Majesty will be visiting us(Bhutanese people)I felt so excited and happy. “ “I am always inspired by His Majesty’s speech. Long live our King,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Royal visit to the State of Kuwait began on January 16, 2023. Upon arrival at Kuwait, His Majesty was received by the Crown Prince of Kuwait, His Highness Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah at Bayan Palace. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
On January 17, 2023, His Majesty The King granted an audience to Bhutanese living and working in Kuwait. There are over 3,500 Bhutanese living and working in Kuwait, and approximately 5,300 Bhutanese in the Gulf countries. His Majesty The King met with the Kuwaiti Prime Minister and Foreign Minister on January 17. His Majesty also met with the Royal Family members and senior government officials, including the former Prime Minister of Kuwait, HH Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who is a longtime friend of Bhutan.
Under the auspices of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck, and His Highness Late Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of the State of Kuwait, Bhutan and Kuwait established diplomatic relations with the appointment of the Consul General in Kuwait City on May 23, 1983. It was upgraded as the Royal Bhutanese Embassy (RBE) with its first resident Ambassador of Bhutan to Kuwait on April 23, 1986.
Meanwhile, Kuwait established its resident Embassy in Thimphu with the appointment of its first resident Ambassador in Thimphu on December 29, 2010. Until then the Ambassadors of Kuwait in New Delhi in India were accredited as the non-resident Ambassadors to Bhutan.
Bhutan and Kuwait enjoy very cordial and warm bilateral relations and friendship guided by the relationship between the Royal Families of the two countries. There has also been regular exchange of high-level dignitaries’ visits between the two countries.
On September 29, 2020, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the late Amir of Kuwait, passed away at the age of 91. Subsequently, the Crown Prince His Highness Sheik Nawaf was sworn in as Emir of Kuwait on September 30.
His Majesty the King, who was then on a tour of the Southern districts offered prayers and a thousand butter lamps at the Samdrup Jongkhar Rabdey Dratshang. His Majesty expressed his deepest sympathies to Kuwait and its officials in a facebook message for the demise of the late HH Amir. The message read, “His Highness the late Amir of Kuwait passed away yesterday at the age of 91. Besides being an internationally respected leader, the late Amir was a good friend of Bhutan, and contributed greatly to strengthening relations between Bhutan and Kuwait.”
As the Special Envoy to His Majesty, The King, His Royal Highness, Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck made a three-day official visit to Kuwait from October 18-20, 2020 to convey the condolences of His Majesty and the people of Bhutan on the passing of His Highness the Late Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
According to the Bhutanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, economic cooperation between Bhutan and Kuwait has been channeled mainly through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), which commenced its assistance and cooperation in Bhutan since 1983. Besides providing generous grants and soft loans to various developmental Projects, KFAED has also been providing useful Technical Assistance for the feasibility studies and development for various Industrial Estate Development projects in Bhutan. The two countries also cooperate in several international and multilateral fora.
Since 2015, several hundreds of Bhutanese have joined the Kuwait’s workforce mainly in the hospitality and retail service sectors in some of the reputed business houses such as Al-Shaya, Americana, Trolley, and Kout Food Group, etc. The Royal Bhutanese Embassy supports the overseas recruitment process and provide consular services to the Bhutanese working in Kuwait.
Sangay Rabten from Thimphu