The Kuwaiti government is keen to see more Thai companies to invest in the Arab state, says Surasak Cheusukhonthip, the Thai ambassador.
The Thai private sector, especially Italian-Thai Development Plc, has expressed interest in entering bids that the government expects to call soon to build a new airport, railway and mass-transit systems, he said.
Meanwhile, he said, Thailand can serve as a medical hub for Middle Eastern visitors as more than 60,000 tourists from Kuwait visited Thailand last year, many of them for medical treatment.
“The Kuwaiti people like medical services in Thailand as they are good and there is no problem about communication in the Arabic language. The treatment process is also not difficult,” said Mr Surasak.
He quoted some Kuwaiti people as saying that they liked hospitals in Thailand as they were like five-star hotels.
Some Kuwaiti hospitals have now tried to change their services to resemble those found in Thai hospitals, said the ambassador, adding some have their staff wear Thai-style dress and greet the visitors with a wai.
Thai businessmen also have good opportunities in industries including food and energy in Kuwait. Mr Surasak said Kuwait was interested in chicken meat from Saha Farm Company and in developing alternative energy technologies, such as solar.
“Although Kuwait is rich in oil and gas as the main source of energy and electricity, its government has planned for an alternative energy mix of more than 30% in the next few years and it would like to join with Thailand which has done a lot in this field,” said the envoy.
The Thai government wants to use Kuwait as the gateway to other Middle East countries in the future.
The Arab state is slightly bigger than Kanchanaburi province of Thailand with most areas being desert. Of its total population of 3.5 million, half of them are foreign workers, mainly from India (700,000 alone), Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Egypt and the Philippines.
There are only 2,000 Thai labourers working in Kuwait in the construction and electronics sectors and only 40 Thai students on scholarships from the Kuwaiti government.
The Thai workers experience few problems, most involving communication, especially when they need to see doctors, said Mr Surasak.
“Although there are Thai groups who can speak Arabic or English, they cannot take care of them all,” he said.
However, the Thai embassy has begun a new project with the larger Filipino community whose doctors and volunteers living in Kuwait could help take care of Thai labourers, he added.
Currently there is no Thai Labour Office in Kuwait and the office in Saudi Arabia provides services. “Our staff in Saudi Arabia go to Kuwait every two months by driving six or seven hours through the desert,” said Mr Surasak.
If any Thai labourers are sick, the Thai embassy will send them to the hospitals where they registered before working.
“This project has just started and I plan to do it every one or two months,” said the envoy.
Mr Surasak expressed confidence that Kuwait would not be affected by upheavals as seen in many other Aran countries because it is politically progressive. Kuwait’s constitution allows for elections and protests against the government are tolerated.
The Kuwaiti people will vote in their next parliamentary election in early December, he said.
“Most Kuwaiti people are rich and there is not a poverty problem because the government has subsidised everything. But the escalating violence in Syria and Iran has made Kuwait a bit concerned,” said the ambassador.
He said Kuwait was trying to act as a leader in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) by reducing tensions and negotiating with the countries where conflicts were occurring.
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Writer: Thanida Tansubhap