Guyana will step up diplomatic activities with the Middle East with the opening of an embassy in the State of Kuwait and the appointment of a Honourary Consul in Saudi Arabia. Jamaica, another Caribbean nation, is set to open an embassy in Kuwait City as well. This move by Guyana will see the appointed of an ambassador to GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) states- Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Bahrain. Qatar is the second richest country in the world, Kuwait the 5th, and the UAE 6th in terms of GDP.  

In an effort to consolidated political, cultural and economic ties, Guyana chose Kuwait from a list of other Gulf States to set up an embassy. The Kuwaiti government offered Guyana an irresistible package of incentives to set up a Guyana Embassy that Gulf state. This in essence, will make it one of the least expensive embassies to administer. A similar incentive was offered to Liberia which opened an embassy in Kuwait last June. Kuwait provided diplomatic facilities including the Chancery, free of cost vehicles, two apartments and the residence for the ambassador.  The cost of living in Kuwait is very cheap because inflation there is very low there, and it’s very cheap to flying within the region. 

Having an ambassador in Kuwait will serve Guyana’s interest in the region.  Partnership between Kuwait and Caricom will eventually lead to FDI. Furthermore, with Jamaica due to open an embassy in Kuwait as well, that will bring more attention to Caricom from GCC. People to people relationship are also vibrant. Kuwait ties with Guyana dates back to the early 1980 with the funding of orphans in Guyana thorough the Central Islamic Organisation in Guyana. Kuwait has also funded a few small mosques in Guyana as well.

Having lived in Kuwait for two years, I can say from first hand that its one of the most liberal countries in the region that continues to make progress in areas of democracy and human rights.  Three women were elected to the Kuwaiti Parliament a few years ago and they are not required to cover their heads, and the country will soon do away with the Kefala system, an employer-based sponsorship system for recruiting migrant workers by February 2011.  It’s a major step forward to address a major source of labor abuse, according to Human Rights Watch.  Kuwait, like the rest of the GCC is a staunch US allies. In fact, I would say they are US clientele states.

A seasoned diplomat expected to be posted in Kuwait city. That diplomat will also be appointed ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Oman.  Having dealt with the Middle East for over a decade, according to undisclosed sources, “the ambassador is verse on the social, political and economic landscape of the region.”  It is expected that Guyana’s ambassador to Kuwait will work fervently to forge closer economic, political and cultural ties with the region.  In particular, to advance the Bharrat Jagdeo Middle East Initiative which was gain momentum during President Bharrat Jagdeo second term in office.

The Bharrat Jagdeo government’s push to forge Middle Eastern ties was well taught out. President Jagdeo didn’t embrace the Middle East overnight and the opening of an embassy in Kuwait isn’t a “Jagdeo thing.” Relationship with the Middle East was at an all time low after the demise of the Jagans.  The new leadership in Georgetown was skeptical of the OIC and Middle East ties. Contacts with Arab heads of states, a more enlightened foreign ministry and a more confident government in Georgetown may have been the turn point in Guyana Middle East ties.