Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah

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sheikh jaber al-ahmad al-sabah
Jabir al-Ahmad al-Jabir Al Sabah 1998.jpg
Emir of Kuwait
Reign 31 December 1977 – 15 January 2006
Predecessor Sabah III
Successor Saad I
Prime Ministers
Prime Minister of Kuwait
Reign 30 November 1965 – 8 February 1978
Predecessor Sabah Al-Salim Al-Sabah
Successor Saad Al-Salim Al-Sabah
Reign 17 January 1962 – 2 February 1963
Predecessor New Office
Successor Sabah Al-Salim Al-Sabah
Emir Abdullah III
Father Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
Born (1926-06-29)29 June 1926
Died 15 January 2006(2006-01-15) (aged 79)

Jaber III al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, GCB (Hon), GCMG (Hon) (29 June 1926 - 15 January 2006)[1][2] (Arabic: جابر الأحمد الجابر الصباح‎) of the al-Sabah dynasty, was the 3rd Emir of Kuwait and Commander of the Military of Kuwait; serving from 31 December 1977 until his death on 15 January 2006 due to cerebral hemorrhage. The third monarch to rule Kuwait since its independence from Britain, Jaber had previously served as minister of finance and Economy from 1962 until 1965, when he was appointed prime minister prior to becoming Kuwait's ruler.[3]

Jaber is most famous for having been monarch of Kuwait during the 1990 Iraqi invasion of his country, which led to the Gulf War in which his country was liberated by an international coalition acting under United Nations sanction, composed of troops from the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and France, together with forces from several Arab states.

Early life and education[edit]

Jaber was born on 29 January 1926 in Kuwait City.[2] Jaber (of the Al-Sabah dynasty) was the third son of the late Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who served as Kuwait's monarch from 1921 to 1950.

Sheikh Jaber received his early education at Al-Mubarakiya School, Al-Ahmediya School, and Al-Sharqiya School, and was subsequently tutored privately in religion, English, Arabic, and the sciences.[citation needed]


Early career[edit]

In 1962, he was appointed as Kuwait's minister of finance when the ministry was established.[2] In this position, Sheikh Jaber was tasked with putting the new Kuwaiti dinar into circulation and establishing the Kuwaiti Currency Board, of which he was the chair. As minister, Jaber adopted, and was the first chairman of, the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development from 1962–1964.[4] The Fund provides financial and technical assistance to developing countries; currently it is helping 103 countries. The country's oil revenues transformed it from a largely tribal society to a modern, urbanized state with one of the world's largest per capita incomes. During this time, the Fund expanded to aid five countries and gave loans to another eight.[5] The money going into the fund came from oil earnings, with virtually all of it being sent outside Kuwait.[5] He is also credited with the formation of the Fund for Future Generations. This fund takes ten percent of the country’s oil revenues and invests it for when the oil resources are depleted. However, the Kuwaiti government used both funds (Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development and Fund for Future Generations) during the (Persian) Gulf War when it was used to help fund the government-in-exile. Jaber remained Minister of Finance and Economy until he was appointed Prime Minister in 1965. A year later, he was named Crown Prince and became Emir of Kuwait in 1977.[citation needed]

Iran-Iraq War[edit]

Kuwait found itself geographically in the middle of the Iran-Iraq War that took place from 1980 to 1988. It sided with Iraq out of fear of what could happen if Iran succeeded in taking over areas of Iraq as well as apprehension over Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolutionary rhetoric.[citation needed] In 1985, Kuwait became a direct target in the war when a terrorist group, the Islamic Holy War, attacked Sheikh Jaber’s motorcade, leaving him almost uninjured but killing two bodyguards and a bystander, in addition to the suicide bomber.[6] It was discovered that the group had ties to Iran.[6] The group was demanding the release of seventeen convicted terrorists who were being held in Kuwaiti prison. Throughout the war, Kuwait suffered from many security threats, including a series of bombings. In 1986, one year after the attack on Sheikh Jaber’s motorcade, there was an attack on an oil installation, which almost caused the shutdown of Kuwait’s oil industry.[7] Members of the cabinet grew increasingly angry over the situation, believing that their role was to protect the citizens of Kuwait. They believed that they were not fulfilling their roles as government officials and that more should be done to protect the citizens. Therefore, the entire cabinet resigned as a sign of opposition towards the policies of Sheikh Jaber that had led to the security breeches in Kuwait and to show that they believed that more should be done.[8] Two days later, Sheikh Jaber unconstitutionally dissolved the Parliament (which was not reinstated until 1991) and several articles of the Constitution (including freedom of the press), citing security concerns.[8] Sheikh Jaber then appointed a new cabinet, which included many of the previous members, showing the emir’s faith in the previous officials.[7] In addition to the security concerns, the war also had economic implications for Kuwait. There was a drop in oil prices as well as Iranian attacks on Kuwaiti oil tankers that were trying to transport oil to the United States. This problem was dubbed the 'tanker wars' and resulted in Kuwaiti ships flying US flags.[citation needed]

Gulf War[edit]

After much discussion of a border dispute between Kuwait and Iraq, Iraq invaded its smaller neighbor on August 2, 1990 with the stated intent of annexing it. Apparently, the task of the invading Iraqi army was to capture or kill Sheikh Jaber.[9] However, the Iraqi army was never able to accomplish this goal because Sheikh Jaber and his government escaped to Saudi Arabia within hours of the invasion; in Saudi Arabia they ran the Kuwaiti exiled government from in a hotel in Dhahran. However, Sheikh Jaber's brother, Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, was not so lucky and was killed at the Dasman Palace.

The Kuwaiti government-in-exile was one of the most effective governments to ever operate in exile. From the mountainous city of Taif resort in Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Jaber set up his government so that its ministers were still in control and were in constant communication with the people still in Kuwait. The government was able to direct an underground armed resistance made up of both military and civilian forces and was able to provide public services to the Kuwaiti people who remained, such as emergency care through the funds that it had saved from oil revenues.[9] Sheikh Jaber also received help from a United Nations mandated coalition led by the United States.

Jaber and his government lobbied hard and supported military action against Iraq before and during the Gulf War. When the war ended on February 28, 1991, Sheikh Jaber remained in Saudi Arabia while declaring three months of martial law, causing the accusation that he was trying to monopolize too much power for the small constitutional monarchy.[10]

By declaring martial law, those who were appointed to government positions were able to ensure the safety of the people. By imposing martial law, government officials were able to ensure that there were no Iraqis still in Kuwait who may have attempted to once again overthrow the government. They were also tasked with making sure that the country was safe enough for Sheikh Jaber and his government to return, which they eventually did on 15 March 1991.[11] Sheikh Jaber held additional advantages in comparison to most leaders who have been forced to deal with invasions, as he had the loyalty of the Kuwaitis who were both in the country and those who had fled. After a great deal of international sponsored post-war diplomacy, in 1994, Iraq accepted the UN-demarcated border with Kuwait on the basis of the 1932 and 1963 agreements and UN Security Resolutions.[citation needed]

Personal life and death[edit]

The people of Kuwait loved Sheikh Jaber to the extent that they referred to him as 'Baba Jaber', meaning Father Jaber. His actual family is quite complex; it is unclear how many wives he had. He had more than forty children.[11] In September 2001, Sheikh Jaber suffered from a stroke and went to the United Kingdom for treatment. Five years later, he died on 15 January 2006, aged 79, from a cerebral hemorrhage that he had suffered since 2001.[12] He was succeeded by the Crown Prince Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah.[2] The government announced a 40-day period of mourning and closed for three days.[13]



  • 1926–1937: Sheikh Jaber bin Ahmad Al-Sabah
  • 1937–1966: His Excellency Sheikh Jaber bin Ahmad Al-Sabah
  • 1966–1977: His Highness Sheikh Jaber bin Ahmad Al-Sabah, Crown Prince of the State of Kuwait
  • 1977–1979: His Highness Sheikh Jaber III bin Ahmad Al-Sabah, Emir of Kuwait
  • 1979–1995: His Highness Sheikh Sir Jaber III bin Ahmad Al-Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, GCMG
  • 1995–2006: His Highness Sheikh Sir Jaber III bin Ahmad Al-Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, GCB, GCMG


Sheikh Jaber was given the following honors and awards.[14]

See Also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Hassan, Hamdi A. (1999), The Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait: Religion, Identity and Otherness in the Analysis of War and Conflict (Series: Critical Studies on Islam); New York: Pluto (UK).


  1. ^ Laura Etheredge (Ed.). "Persian Gulf States: Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates". New York, NY: Britannic Educational Publishing, 2011. Print. p. 53
  2. ^ a b c d e "His Highness Sheikh Jaber III". The Telegraph. 16 January 2006. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Obituary: Sheikh Jaber, Emir of Kuwait". BBC. 15 January 2006. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  4. ^ Zahlan, Rosemarie Said. "Making of the Modern A Arabian Gulf states Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman". London: Unwin Hyman, 1989. Print. p. 81
  5. ^ a b "Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development – Timeline. Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development – Timeline", 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  6. ^ a b United Press International. "Car Bomber Fails in Attempt to Kill Leader of Kuwait", "The New York Times", 26 May 1985.
  7. ^ a b Zahlan, Rosemarie Said. "Making of the Modern Persian Gulf states Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman". London: Unwin Hyman, 1989. Print. p. 44
  8. ^ a b Kifner, John. "Kuwait Dissolves its Parliament." "The New York Times", 4 July 1986 p. 16.
  9. ^ a b Ibrahim, Youssef M. "Confrontation in the Gulf: Man in the News; The Exiled Emir: Sheik Jaber al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah", "The New York Times", 26 September 1996. Retrieved 16 November 2009
  10. ^ Ibrahim, Youssef M. "After the War: Kuwait City; Nagging Question Lies Beneath Kuwait's Rejoicing: When Is the Emir Coming Home?","The New York Times", 4 March 1997.
  11. ^ a b Ibrahim, Youssef M. "After the War: Kuwait; Kuwaiti Emir, Tired and Tearful, Returns to His Devastated Land", "The New York Times", 15 March 1997.
  12. ^ "Emir of Kuwait dies". Daily Record. 16 January 2006. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  13. ^ Slackman, Michael, and Neil MacFarquhar. "Sheik Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah, the Leader of Kuwait for 28 Years, Is Dead at 79", "The New York Times", 16 January 2006. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  14. ^ "Al-Sabah Dynasty". Royal Ark. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah
Born: 29 June 1926 Died: 15 January 2006
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Sabah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah
Emir of Kuwait
Succeeded by
Saad I Al-Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah