Last updated in March 2017
Kuwait and the Federal Republic of Germany established diplomatic relations in 1964. Germany is highly regarded in Kuwait as a major political and economic force in Europe and as a country that has traditionally maintained good relations with the Arab world. This is evidenced by the numerous high-level political visits to Kuwait in recent years. Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier last visited Kuwait in October 2015. His Kuwaiti counterpart, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, travelled to Berlin for talks in October 2016.
Recent high points of diplomatic exchange also include the visit to Germany by the Emir, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, in April 2010 and the visit to Kuwait by Federal President Wulff on 26 February 2011 to attend the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of independence (as well as the 20th anniversary of Liberation Day and the fifth anniversary of the Emir’s rule). In September 2014, Federal Chancellor Merkel hosted a visit to Berlin by the Kuwaiti Prime Minister. German Bundestag President Norbert Lammert visited Kuwait in February 2016 accompanied by a Bundestag delegation.
In 2007, the two countries signed an agreement on cooperation in security matters. The fifth meeting of the German-Kuwaiti Joint Commission on Economic, Trade and Technical Cooperation was held in Berlin in January 2017.
Kuwait is the fourth most important market for German goods among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), after the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Germany is undisputedly Kuwait’s principal trading partner in the European Union. In 2015, German exports to Kuwait were worth EUR 1.37 billion and German imports from Kuwait approximately EUR 61 million.
The main goods supplied to Kuwait by Germany are high-end vehicles, machinery, plant (in particular power stations), electrical goods, chemical products, iron goods and medical technology.
Kuwait holds substantial investments in Germany and has shares in leading German companies.
A double taxation agreement between Germany and Kuwait has been in force since 2000. An investment promotion and protection agreement between the two countries entered into force on 15 November 1997.
A bilateral cultural agreement has been in place since 12 June 1989.
Following Germany’s signing of a memorandum of understanding with Kuwait’s Ministry of Higher Education, Kuwaiti students have been able to study in Germany under a Kuwaiti government scholarship programme since the 2009/2010 winter semester. So far, around 20 government scholarship holders have benefited from this programme.
There is cooperation in higher education with Düsseldorf, the Goethe-University in Frankfurt on the Main and Mannheim. The Technical University of Munich plans to set up a campus in Kuwait.
The German School was not re-opened after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (1990/91). In autumn 2016, began i.a. in German (but following the U.S. curriculum) at a trilingual Kuwaiti school set up by a private investor from Kuwait, initially comprising a kindergarten section and first and second grade. Moreover, the children of German business staff and experts have been mainly reliant on international schools modelled on the British, American or French education systems. The British School of Kuwait, which offers German instruction in all grades from the fifth upwards, was has been part of the Schools: Partners for the Future network (PASCH) since 2009.
English is the dominant foreign language taught in Kuwait. German is not taught at the country’s state schools, but private language schools and teachers offer German courses.