By Sherouq Sadeqi
WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (KUNA) -- US President Donald Trump and top cabinet officials gathered at the Kuwait Embassy in Washington for an intimate evening of celebration in honor of First Lady Melania Trump's humanitarian service.
The dazzling gala dinner for UNHCR, hosted by Kuwait's Ambassador to the US Sheikh Salem Al-Sabah and his wife Sheikha Rima Al-Sabah honoring Melania Trump, the recipient of the Kuwait-America Foundation 2017 Humanitarian Award, comes less than a year since the Trumps' moved into the White House, which highlights the close ties Kuwait and the US share.
Sheikh Salem Al-Sabah said in his speech that the deep commitment he shares with his wife Sheikha Rima for philanthropy is "who we are as Kuwaitis. It is woven into the fabric of the nation we represent.
"Our commitment is a reflection of our leader, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, whom in 2014 then-UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon honored for his exemplary leadership in humanitarian affairs. The Secretary General named his Highness a great humanitarian leader of our time," he added.
He affirmed "as has been the case for decades, Kuwait and the United States are working hard together, as friends and allies, to resolve disputes throughout the Middle East and to plan for a more secure and prosperous future for our peoples.
"I always look forward to this event, in part because it's a chance to do good, but also to celebrate the indispensable friendship between our nations," Sheikh Salem remarked.
For her part, the Ambassador's wife, Rima Al-Sabah indicated that "this year alone," over USD one million has been raised for UNHCR programs that empower women and girls.
She said "that money will help refugee and displaced women receive social services, develop professional skills, find employment opportunities and obtain start-up grants.
"Together, we are changing lives, and this evening is an opportunity for the Kuwait-America Foundation to show our sincere gratitude to each of you for contributing to this critical work," she added.
As she introduced Melania Trump, the Kuwait-America Foundation 2017 Humanitarian Award recipient, Rima Al-Sabah shed light on the First Lady's commitment, less than a year into her time in the White House, to "being a powerful force for good, not just in the United States, but everywhere.
"Because of her own path, she understands better than most what it is like to leave home behind. She knows what it takes to learn a new language, a new culture - to call a new land home. And she brings this understanding to the important work she does, day in and day out," she remarked.
As she accepted her award, First Lady Melania Trump said she is "honored to be here and receive this award," thanking the Ambassador and his wife for hosting "this wonderful event.
"They are both exceptional examples of humanitarians who inspire us .. for the benefit of others," she remarked.
She added that the measure of any society's humanity "must be judged by how it treats the weakest and most vulnerable among them and quite often it is the children who are unable to defend themselves when under attack, speak up when abused or find aid when most needed.
"Let us join together now to become their voice so they can be heard, to become their shield so they can find protection and to become their safe haven so they may find hope in the future," she remarked.
First Lady's director of communications, Stephanie Grisham said in a statement on the event that Melania Trump is "honored by the recognition, but more importantly considers this an opportunity to continue shining a light on the fact that it is often children who bear the harshest burdens of cruelty and injustice." For his part, President Donald Trump thanked everyone for this special evening and thanked the Kuwait-America Foundation for honoring Melania Trump, during which he described the Ambassador and his wife "as very special people who have become friends." In remarks he gave the crowd, Trump shed light on his meeting with His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in September, saying "he met a man who is really helping us, really very strongly helping us in the Middle East." He thanked His Highness the Amir of Kuwait "for all that he is doing in the region," saying "there is a lot of things happening in the Middle East." During the evening, the Senate passed its fiscal year 2018 Budget Resolution, where Trump had received the news and told the crowd that the Ambassador and his wife "must be good luck." "On behalf of my entire cabinet who are here tonight. We have a lot of them, I want to thank everybody in this room. We've all come together as a family very much.The world is actually coming together," he remarked.
Furthermore, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in his remarks "one reason we are here tonight is to celebrate the flourishing and always strong US-Kuwaiti partnership." He affirmed that Kuwait "is an important strategic partner for the US in the Middle East and our relationship is growing." He recalled His Highness the Amir's meeting with Trump in September, re-emphasizing they had "an extraordinary, important and valuable meeting right here in Washington." He shed light on the "productive" strategic dialogue held between Kuwait and the US during the visit of His Highness the Amir that addressed defense, trade and a range of other issues.
"We welcome Kuwait's recent commitments to several of Trump's regional priorities," he noted, as Kuwait "responded to Trump's historic call for action" during the Riyadh Summit to defeat the so-called Islamic State (IS) and prevent terrorism and violent extremism." He also praised the role Kuwait played "to diplomatically seek a resolution" for the ongoing Gulf crisis.
He also highlighted Kuwait's generosity, saying "Kuwait has also generously provided important support to humanitarian initiatives in the wake of the (IS) related violence in Iraq and Syria.
"Kuwait remains the UNHCR's largest donor from the Middle East and North Africa and Kuwait has also contributed large amounts of money in bilateral assistance to Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq to support their efforts," as those countries host refugees from Syria and other parts of the region, he added.
"The US is proud to have a partner so deeply committed to address and provide for displaced persons," he remarked.
UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterre said in his remarks that the Ambassador "has the privileged to serve one country and one leader that he admires," and that Kuwait under the leadership of His Highness the Amir "represent the most fantastic combination of wisdom and generosity." He added that the in the Middle East today, His Highness the Amir has been "a constant voice for reconciliation, dialogue, a bridge builder and a messenger for peace.
"As the Syrian people began to suffer from a horrendous situation, where the world was largely blind and deaf in relation to humanitarian consequences of the war, His Highness the Amir assumed the leadership during which the international community convened three successful donor conferences," he remarked.
Lastly, Guterre paid tribute to Melania Trump saying he is very impressed by what she has done and what she has achieved with the center of it all being the well-being and development of children whom are the passion of her private and public life.
For his part, Kuwait's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Anas Al-Saleh, who was in attendance, stressed to KUNA the importance of such-high level attendance at the Kuwait Embassy represented by President Donald Trump, the First Lady and high level members of the cabinet that ensures the "strong relationship Kuwait enjoys with the US." He added that this reconfirms the "successful foreign policies and humanitarian efforts led by His Highness the Amir.