786D.00/7–851: Despatch

The Consul in Kuwait ( Duncan ) to the Department of State

confidential
No. 2

Subject: Call on His Highness esh Sheikh Abdullah Salem es Sabah

In accordance with arrangements made by H. G. Jakins, Political Agent in Kuwait, I called on His Highness the Ruler of Kuwait, Sheikh Abdullah Salem es Sabah at 8:00 a. m. on Sunday, July 1, 1951. At the request of Mr. Jakins, I arrived at the Agency at 7:50 and we proceeded to Dasman Palace in his automobile.

His Highness greeted us at the second floor stair landing just outside the room devoted to his morning maglis. He extended his hand and spoke a word of welcome in precise English. We then entered his chamber and were seated.

The interview lasted thirty minutes and was conducted with Mr. Jakins acting as interpreter. He speaks quite fluent Arabic but in general ignores the niceties of formula expression with which the speech of the Kuwaitis I have heard is very much concerned. I found Mr. Jakins’ speech relatively easy to follow and his translations adequate although somewhat short. His Highness speaks in a low almost rumbling voice which I found in the initial interview difficult if not impossible to follow.

His Highness expressed the hope that I would find it possible to adjust myself to the heat and living conditions in Kuwait and enquired as to when my staff would arrive and where the consulate and residence would be established. I explained that I was engaged in looking at available buildings and that it had seemed better for me to come out alone to select accommodations and have the staff and furnishings follow in a month or so when there would be provision to receive them. I inquired if His Highness would care to make a suggestion about a suitable location, and he quoted in return an Arabic proverb to the effect that seeking would provide a suggestion.

His Highness then made a long statement to the effect that the American and the British people are friends, and that they are both his friends and that it would be this way in Kuwait; that all business and relations would be conducted in a spirit of cooperation. I thanked His Highness for the expression of this sentiment and assured him that [Page 1001] it was in this spirit of friendly cooperation that the American government and people regarded Kuwait and the relationships that would arise from the establishment of a consulate in Kuwait.

His Highness then asked Mr. Jakins if he had any late news, and Mr. Jakins summarized briefly the status of plans for cease fire discussions in Korea and the developments in Abadan with regard to the so called anti-sabotage law.

His Highness apologized for being unable to offer coffee or other refreshment because of its being the month of Ramadhan. I replied that rather I must thank him for being kind enough to receive me. Mr. Jakins then asked if we might be excused. His Highness accompanied us to the door of the car where he said goodbye in English and shook hands holding my hand in the way of the Arab and applying a series of pressures, which act is difficult to interpret as to whether it means great pleasure at meeting, an effort to communicate more completely and express sincerity, or merely a reaction of custom.

During the drive back to the Agency, Mr. Jakins spoke of the contrast between the present Ruler and the previous one; he noted particularly that he felt the present ruler to be more understanding of problems and easier to deal with. He described the previous ruler as having an autocratic bearing with a stubborn element in his makeup.

The Ruler is certainly impressive in his quiet dignity, and although he appeared somewhat tired, probably as a result of the rigors of fasting, he managed to convey by his looks and smiles a feeling of sincere friendliness.

Enoch S. Duncan