Official Diplomatic relationships between the two countries had begun from the 19th of February 1971.
The Embassy of the State of Kuwait in Sri Lanka was established in the year 1995.
The Sri Lankan Embassy in Kuwait was established in the year 1981.
Name of the Kuwaiti Ambassadors’ in Sri Lanka from the inception stage:
Year 1995 - H.E Mr. Sulaiman Al Rushdan
Year 1998 - H.E Mr. Moosa Al Moosa
Year 2002 - H.E Mr. Abdullah Nasser AlSanoosi
Year 2005 - H.E Mr. Fahad Hajar Al Mutairi
Year 2009 - H.E Mr. Yaqoub Yousef Al Ateeqi
Relationship between Kuwait and Sri Lanka
A Strong relationship between both countries have been in existence since the time of the “Arab Traders” who Introduced Ceylon as "Serendib".
The historical relationship between Sri Lanka and Kuwait has strengthened mainly due to the trade agreements between the two countries. The Cordiality between Sri Lanka and Kuwait enhanced rapidly since the inception of diplomatic engagement in many areas.
The visit of H.E. The president of Sri Lanka Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksha in May 2007 to Kuwait is valued highly significant as several agreements were successfully signed during this period. Before his visit to Kuwait Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumaratunga, The former President of Sri Lanka made a courtesy visit to Kuwait. And both leaders had received a warm welcome from the Kuwaiti Authorities.
The relationship between the two countries was further strengthened after the visit of the two Kuwaiti trade Ministers to Sri Lank. The former Trade Minister of Kuwait Mr. Jasim Al Muzeef paid a courtesy visit to Sri Lanka in 1997 as well as Mr. Falah Fahad Al Hajiri who visited Sri Lanka in 2007. His visit was a milestone in various fields. During his visit to Sri Lanka he underlined the need to explore more avenues for expanding trade volume between the two countries.
The volume of trade exchange between Sri Lanka and Kuwait has increased to 2 billion Rupees. The value of exports to Kuwait from Sri Lanka in 2004 reached US$ 20 million and the value of imports reached US$ 22 million.
Sri Lankan products including tea, rubber, coconut, seeds, nuts, fresh vegetables, spices and almonds would be the main products highlighted in the Kuwait market among the exports to Kuwait.
Sri Lanka would be the main supplier of Tea to Kuwait. According to recent market sources 54% of Kuwaitis indulge in the tasteful varieties of tea produced in Sri Lanka.
The main Imports from Kuwait would be polythene, minerals, building materials and fiber glass. In addition 1750 barrels of crude oil and gas is also been imported.
Agreements/ Projects between the two Countries:
On the 24th of April 1994, the first agreement of trade was signed by both countries.
Soon after five years on the 04th of October 1999 another agreement was entered on “Promoting and Protecting Investments” in Sri Lanka.
In addition another two agreements were signed in the year 2004 on the 23rd of April on “Avoidance of double taxation” and an “Air services agreement”
During the Tsunami disaster that occurred in 2004 December, the Government of Kuwait along with other charitable organizations played a great role in aiding the victims. In this respect on the 25th of May 2006, Sri Lanka and Kuwait signed an agreement to build 100 houses in the Tsunami affected areas especially in the Ampara District. The following project was coordinated by the “Kuwait Red Crescent Committee”. In addition another agreement was signed in order to distribute fishing boats for the fishermen who were affected by the Tsunami.
A loan agreement for the South Eastern University of Sri Lanka was signed on the 17th of July 2007. The Kuwait Fund provided 7 Million US$ to improve the academic infrastructure at this University.
Aid was also provided by the “Kuwait Fund” to construct highways and bridges in Sri Lanka in order to improve the Sri Lankan infrastructure. The Mahaweli Project, Allawwa Bridge Project, Eastern University Projects are the famous projects.
During the visit to Kuwait of H.E. The president of Sri Lanka Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksha in May 2007, two agreements were signed between the two countries.
a) First Agreement was to release Sri Lankan prisoners in Kuwait- the Government of Kuwait not only agreed to release 3000 prisoners but also made all necessary arrangements to send them back to Sri Lanka.
b) Second agreement was to exchange cooperation between the cultural, media, educational and science fields. This agreement was signed by Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Honorable Rohitha Bogollagama and Kuwait Labour Minister, Sheik Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah.
Educational Project- State of Kuwait always considers the education of Sri Lankan people. More than 20 Sri Lankan students are currently in Kuwait on Scholarships awarded by the Government of Kuwait. There are more than 35 students who have passed from Kuwait Universities and colleges.
Role of Kuwait Red Crescent Society and Zakat House
The Kuwait Red Crescent Society has played a major role to extend its help amongst the Sri Lankan people by distributing boats, water tanks, building houses for victims of the Tsunami and so forth. In addition to this, 100 houses were constructed in the Kattankudi area located in Batticalo and was named as “Maddenatul Kuwait”. Also a housing project has been started in Nindavur and Ampara districts.
Another project was established by the Kuwait Red Crescent Society in Puttalam. A full equipped hospital named as "Kuwait Hospital” was constructed and it includes Emergency treatment units, Operation theatres, X-ray Units, Sound Units and Ultra Sound Units etc. The KRCS also conducted several Eye Camps in Sri Lanka. More than 1000 patients benefited through this camp during the last two years .It has donated US$ 45,000 for eye operations and carries out free eye checkups.
The KRCS provided total relief aid to Sri Lanka (8905 tons of assorted food items) during the Tsunami Disaster in 2004. The Water purifications centers were set up for the Tsunami victims in five affected areas. It has provided US$ 1,784.000. Apart from these more than 100 boats were distributed for fishermen in Ampara.
The tremendous service of "Zakat House" is also another turning point in the relationship of the two countries. Muslims in Sri Lanka are very much grateful to the “Zakath House” as they receive several benefits, such as the constructions of mosques, wells, schools, orphanages, and also provide shelter for poor families.
There are more than 160,000 Sri Lankans presently working in Kuwait. The foreign currency flow would be between 9-8 million rupees. The Embassies in both countries are paying utmost concern to Sri Lankan workers. The Government of Kuwait also pardoned Sri Lankan detainees in Kuwait jails. In addition to this in 2007 the Kuwait Government granted a grace period to Sri Lankans who have violated the “Aqama Residential visa” rule in Kuwait.
As Sri Lanka’s swift support to the government of Kuwait during the Iraqi regime's invasion of Kuwait, the Government of Kuwait has been supportive of Sri Lanka's effort to eradicate terrorism.
As Sri Lanka is enjoying excellent relations with Kuwait they should exchange trade delegations in order to familiarize products in each other's market. And further strengthen the relationship between the two countries.