PARIS: At a time of growing world tensions and widespread global misunderstandings, a Kuwaiti national has taken on the mission of seeking to promote closer ties between peoples by creating ‘The Bridge of Cultures’ foundation between France and Kuwait, a move which will enhance the already solid ties between these two nations.
In an inaugural event for the new Foundation, senior Kuwaiti and French officials gave their blessing and support this week to former KUNA journalist and diplomat, Nawaf Naman, to pursue what they said was “a noble goal” and “a productive initiative.” Kuwaiti Ambassador to Paris Sami Mohammad Al-Suleiman was the guest of honor at the event and he was accompanied by an important Kuwaiti delegation of top diplomats to support their compatriot’s project.
“I would like to praise this productive initiative by Nawaf Naman to extend another bridge between the two friendly peoples of Kuwait and France,” Al-Suleiman said at the launch of The Bridge of Cultures Foundation.
The Ambassador remarked that the hosting of the launch in the “prestigious” French National Assembly building was “a distinguished indication that reflects the excellent relations between Kuwait and France in various areas.” The French host of the event, senior Parliamentarian Jean-Francois Mancel, also warmly welcomed the cultural initiative, which he said would bring the two countries closer together.
“I laud the idea of Nawaf Naman, the President of ‘Bridge of Cultures’, which is an association that has a vocation to permit Kuwait and France to meet each other, to better understand each other and to like each other in all areas,” Mancel stated. Explaining his initiative, Naman said that more bridges were needed between nations at a time of instability and when “the cultural dimension is present in three-quarters of major world conflicts” and, this, despite better communications and a huge technological improvement and ease of contact between peoples and nations. There is a glaring need for more contacts through “conferences, round tables, cultural, artistic and sporting events,” as well as through personal contacts via “institutional visits, press trips and meetings between nationals,” Naman affirmed. The foundation would also promote “economic contacts and student exchanges,” as well as a mechanism for “decentralized cooperation” and pairing of twin-cities and towns. Additionally, the cultural body would work with public entities to promote development projects between States in the economic and cultural spheres. Naman stressed that his Foundation had no intention of overlapping into the political or diplomatic area and he intended to work “intelligently” with State institutions in both countries.
Indeed, as Ambassador commented on some of the “State-to-State” cooperation agreements that have been in place for some time and which are governed by specific accords. He indicated that there were already long-standing and strong ties between the two nations and that culture was one area where cooperation between France and Kuwait started very early.
“It is fortunate that the first bilateral cooperation agreement between the two countries was the cultural, scientific and technical cooperation agreement signed between Kuwait and France on September 18, 1969,” he remarked, noting that things have progressed on several levels since then.
He highlighted two specific but not exclusive areas of this cooperation: “Regular Education” whereby Kuwait has sought to support experimental teaching of French in public schools and this has now been expanded since 2015, when French was made a requirement in some 7th Grade classes over the past two years. “This experience has been a remarkable success,” the Kuwaiti envoy said, adding that the Ministry of Education was considering generalizing the policy for all primary schools.
A second area Al-Suleiman highlighted was Higher Education, where he noted France was ranked 10th for receiving Kuwaiti foreign students, who number 140 in graduate and post-graduate programs here in various fields including French language, Law, Economics, Medicine, Accounting etc.
Work is ongoing to increase the number of students and also on recognition of French diploma equivalencies in Kuwait, the Ambassador noted. Al-Suleiman also underlined Kuwait’s lasting commitment to supporting culture in France and also French initiatives on an international scale. France’s ‘moral and financial support’ to the Arab World Institute (IMA) is well-known and appreciated, as is Kuwait’s generosity in support the Islamic Department in the world-famous Louvre Museum.
Kuwait also has come out strongly in support of protecting cultural heritage in conflict zones and last March contributed some $5.0 million to an international fund sponsored by France and the UAE to help safeguard, rescue, renovate and protect cultural artifacts in dangerous areas, particularly in the Middle East. – KUNA