In Kuwait, most children dream of becoming doctors when they grow up. The current Ambassador of Kuwait to BiH, H.E. Mr. Nasser Riden Thamer Almotairi, was no exception. However, once he graduated from high school, his interest in current political affairs of the time, such as the Iraq-Iran War, led him to decide to pursue the study of political sciences at the University of Kuwait. Upon graduation from University in 1988, he applied for a job in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait. That is how his diplomatic career kicked off.
Interviewed by: Elma Zećo
Photographer: Almin Zrno
KUWAIT – MODERN AND FREE COUNTRY
What have you recognised over time as the biggest advantages and biggest shortcomings of your profession?
This job offers many advantages and benefits, but unfortunately, there are some shortcomings as well. The advantage is that you have an opportunity to see new countries and get to know new cultures, make new friends and become familiar with different traditions. I would note that a shortcoming is that one spends a lot of time away from one’s home country. I have lived away from home for the past 25 years. One of the definite shortcomings is that you are not always able to bring your family along to a country you are assigned to serve in, if the area is dangerous, which is why you often live far away from your friends and family.
What messages about Kuwait would you like to convey as an Ambassador?
Kuwait is a modern, free country, with firm commitment to democracy, human rights andrights of women. It is also fierce in its fight against terrorism. Kuwait is very open to foreigners and because of that, foreigners account to over two thirds of our population. I would also like to note that Kuwait has been recognised as an important humanitarian centre. The United Nations declared the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, the champion of humanitarian work. Given that the population of Kuwait if very young – 41% of the entire population is under 25 years of age and about 73% under 34 years of age, Kuwait invests a lot of effort into youth development. The government has set up a Ministry for Youth Affairs, whose main objective is to create strategies which benefit young people and contribute to their empowerment. The process encourages input from representatives of government administration, private sector, NGOs, universities and everyone who can contribute to youth empowerment.
Where have you served previously as a diplomat, prior to accepting appointment in BiH and which location made a lasting impression on you?
During the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, I spent a brief period of time in Egypt, and then I served on a mission to Iran, France, and Pakistan and finally, for the last three years, here in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Sarajevo. I brought with me fond memories of all those places, because each of them provided me with an opportunity to get to know their different cultures, customs and traditions.
What areas could be of interest in terms of investment of Kuwait in BiH in the future?
I believe that Bosnia and Herzegovina has an enormous potential, especially in the area of economy. Our government is interested in investing in different areas, with particular emphasis on agriculture and energy.
KUWAITIS LOVE THE NATURE OF BIH
What is your opinion of the life in BiH, its culture, tradition, and customs? Do you ever see things here that remind you of your own country?
I like the life in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sarajevo is a very peaceful city and people in BiH are very easy-going and friendly to foreigners. There are many things here that remind me of Kuwait and I perceive them as the things our two cultures have in common. I recognise similar mentality, certain customs and even names of some dishes. I would like to particularly emphasise that the atmosphere here in Sarajevo during the month of Ramadan reminds me of Kuwait.
What do you miss most?
Given that Kuwait has rather small population, the family ties are very strong and what I miss most is the family atmosphere and everyday interaction with my relatives and friends. To make up for it in some way, I organise social events in my residence every week to meet and interact with other Kuwaitis here, and try to recreate the same warm family atmosphere that exists back home.
How often do you go to Kuwait?
Under normal circumstances, I travel to Kuwait once every four or five months. I try to spend as much time as I can with my parents, friends and family. We go to the cinema, the theatre and I try to distance myself a bit from my professional commitments.
What would you recommend the tourists from BiH to see while in Kuwait?
I would definitely recommend a visit to one of the symbols of Kuwait, the Kuwait Towers. I would also like to note an interesting fact – the towers were built by companies from Bosnia and Herzegovina and former Yugoslavia. I would also recommend a visit to the market Souq Al-Mubaraqiya, where one can still experience the authentic spirit of the old Kuwait. Equally interesting and definitely worth seeing are the museums, such as Tarek Rajab Museum, The Scientific Centre and Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah. One should also see the Grand Mosque and big shopping malls, always crowded with visitors, which makes them seem like indoor cities, since most of the time, people keep themselves confined to indoor areas, due to high temperatures outside, which often exceed 50°C. Another interesting attraction is Al Shaheed Park, the biggest in Kuwait.
What do you think is the major appeal of BiH for Kuwaiti tourists?
There are many things that attract Kuwaiti citizens. People here are very friendly. The climate is great; many customs here are similar to those in Kuwait. The nature here in Bosnia and Herzegovina has incredible appeal for the visitors from Kuwait and many of them spend their entire vacation time here.
Where do you like to go to for a vacation?
Destinations I keep going back to are Kuwait, London, since my sons study at a University there and Paris, where I spent ten years of my life.
In conclusion, what are your favourite destinations?
In addition to places I already mentioned, I would add Sarajevo, Mostar and Herzegovina in general, where I find the beauty of the nature to have a hypnotising effect on me.