Desert stay to be the highlight of William’s visit to Kuwait

By Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent in Kuwait City

The Duke of Cambridge will experience the traditional desert lifestyle of Kuwaitis during his first official visit to the Middle East state.

William arrived in the country on Sunday for the start of a four-day tour of the region which will also see him travel to Oman.

The tour has added significance as it falls during the 120th anniversary year of the signing of the 1899 Treaty of Friendship between Kuwait and the UK.

The oil-rich state of Kuwait is in a strategically important position nestling between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and with Iran nearby across the Persian Gulf.

William’s visit will renew and strengthen ties between Britain and Kuwait, and the monarchy’s personal bonds with the Gulf state’s ruling Al Sabah family.

The soft diplomacy of the royal family is an important attribute which can help build bridges on foreign trips, especially in the Middle East.

The duke’s tour begins in earnest on Monday and the highlight will be a desert encampment staged for William outside the capital Kuwait City.

A cultural experience will be laid on for the royal visitor from dates and coffee to camels as he meets young leaders, entrepreneurs and university students.

When the duke arrived by a commercial flight from the UK he was greeted by Britain’s Ambassador to the UK Michael Davenport.

At the nearby private terminal for the ruling family, Sheikh Ali Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah, minister of the Amiri Diwan, the Amir’s court, warmly welcomed the duke and walked him into the building past a guard of honour.

With him was his deputy Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah Al-Sabah who will host the desert experience for William.

The group sat down for a brief welcome chat and were served Middle East tea and soft drinks.

Kensington Palace said about the trip: “Throughout the tour, the duke’s programme will pay tribute to the historic ties Britain shares with Kuwait and Oman, and will highlight strong links and cooperation in many areas, including education, the environment, and defence.

“From the modern capitals of Kuwait City and Muscat, to the vast Kuwaiti deserts and stunning wadis in the Omani mountains, the visit will take in both countries’ unique cultures, their beautiful landscapes, and diverse communities.”

Kensington Palace said William will learn about organisations working to educate and empower young people, and projects providing opportunities for them to develop life skills like leadership and resilience.

During Monday, William will visit Kuwait City’s wetlands to discover more about the countries ambitious plans to protect its natural environment.

The duke will also have an audience with the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, at his Bayan Palace and stay for lunch.

Later, at a major cultural centre, William will meet young Kuwaitis and accompany the primary school children as they explore a number of the attraction’s interactive zones.