‘Kenya is My Second Home’
The Saudi Arabian ambassador to Kenya GHORM SAID MALHAN, whose tour of duty is coming to an end, shares some insights with MOHAMMED WARSAMA about his experience in Nairobi and diplomatic career
DIPLOMAT EAST AFRICA: Your Excellency, as your tour duty in Kenya comes to an end, please tells us about your experience in Kenya.
H.E GHORM SAID MALHAN: My experience in Kenya has been an excellent one. My first visit to Kenya was in the early 80’s when I first visited as a tourist while studying in university. From then on, I kept on coming to Kenya in 1985 on my way to countries in the region as I always stopped over in Nairobi.
In 1989, I was posted as a Second Secretary to my Embassy here in Nairobi and I worked here for three years, prior to my posting to Belgium.
Between 1997 and 2002 I kept on visiting Kenya to see friends.
As you can see from the above, this is the second time I have been appointed to Kenya. I arrived here 0n March 2, 2010 this time as an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, and Permanent Representative to UNON, UNEP and UN-HABITAT.
Q: What challenges have you faced during your stay in Kenya?
A: No challenges; I am very happy here to be among my friends - this is my second home and I have lots of friends in Kenya.
I arrived in Kenya during the era of Constitution – ‘Katiba Era’ of the New Constitution.
I witnessed the peaceful elections on March 4, 2013 and of course, the inauguration of the 4th President of Kenya, H.E Uhuru Kenyatta.
I can see Kenya progressing in many ways. Kenya has a bright future with the introduction of the new Constitution. It has given counties more role to play in local development.
Q: Under your watch rela- tions between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kenya have greatly improved. Please elaborate.
A: I have seen the bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Kenya grow from strength to strength and both the countries enjoy warm cordial relations.
There have been exchange visits by high level dignitaries from both the sides. The former Head of State, H.E Mwai Kibaki visited Saudi Arabia in March 2007 when he attended the 19th Conference of the Arab League Summit Conference in Riyadh, where he was accompa nied by First Lady Mama Lucy. There have been several visits by Kenyan Ministers to Saudi Arabia.
Q: Development assistance from the Saudi government to Kenya has increased during your term. Kindly tells us about it.
A: In December 2010, we saw the official opening of the Dondori Olkalau – Njabini Road almost 100 km long road, funded by the Saudi Fund for Development to the tune of $10 million.
Saudi Arabia through Saudi Fund for Development and cofunded by BADEA, OFID, Kuwait Fund and Abu Dhabi is assisting in the construction of Nuno –Modogashe Road Project. This is 146 km long road crossing northern Kenya and traverses through rich pastoralist land which produces 65 per cent of Kenya’s livestock. Saudi Arabia is funding this project to the tune of Ksh 1.3 billion.
Saudi Arabia is also participating in the financing of Rural Electrification Projects in five regions in Kenya to the tune of Ksh2 billion.
Since it began diplomatic relations with Kenya 35 years ago, Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Fund for Development has given Ksh11 billion aid to Kenya.