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Monday , September 26 2022

The ‘mobile grocery’ and National Bank of Kuwait

This post has been read 17481 times!

I wrote in more than one article about the role of merchants in establishing the state, and their vital role in any society, and I did not mean the current merchant class, of course.

The souls have changed, with many things and things changed in the state, and nothing remains the same but historical facts are difficult to deny.

One of the stories of the role of merchants in the development of the country is the story of the founding of the first bank in Kuwait 70 years ago.

It was stated by the late Khaled Suleiman Al-Hamad (1890-1998), who was one of the founders of the National Bank of Kuwait, the Kuwait Oil Tanker Company and the Kuwait Airways, in an interview with the late Saif Marzouq Al-Shamlan, that he and his companions were sitting one day in the diwaniya of the late Mishaan Al-Khudair in the market.

The late Khalifa Al-Ghunaim entered the diwaniya, and a tear rolled down on his cheek, and when asked about the reason for his distress and why he was so upset he said that this was due to the way he was treated by the British Bank, which was the lone bank in Kuwait at the time since the 1940s, and that the bank employee had refused to open a credit for him for ten thousands rupees (equivalent to 750 dinars), to import goods, and he thought that the foreign employee asked him to bring his guarantor.

Those in the diwaniya agreed to establish a bank and pledged to pay two million rupees, or 150 thousand dinars, to be a nucleus or capital to establish the bank provided that the share of any stakeholder shall not exceed Rs 500,000.

The speaker, Khaled Al-Hamad, pledged to approach the ruler, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem on the matter, and this was done easily, as he agreed with them on the idea and blessed the decision.

That was the beginning of the establishment of the National Bank in Kuwait, in 1952, due to a mistake by a small employee, which cost the British Bank after that millions in profits.

Then comes the person who calls himself the journalist, writer who announced his intention to contest National Assembly elections and accused the traders of bringing ruin to the country.

It is unfortunate that some parties try to offend such founding fathers, who despite their modest acquaintances, were characterized by a great deal of love for adventure, and took risks in projects that would not have seen the light of day without them, such as the Kuwait Airways and other companies.

They were, for a long time, the main supplier or entity that fueled the state budget with money through the customs duties they were paying, and their extensive commercial activity, and other activities long before oil was discovered.

Today, the owner of a mobile grocery license in the desert, who does not know anything about it, is equal to the head of the largest investment company in choosing a member of the Board of Directors of Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

e-mail: a.alsarraf@alqabas.com.kw

By Ahmad alsarraf