Foreign minister S Jaishankar will be carrying Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal letter for Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah

During the second wave of pandemic in India, Kuwait supplied oxygen cylinders and other medical equipment, while Qatar proved to be the new logistic and transportation hub to western India.

External affairs minister (EAM) Subrahmanyam Jaishankar left on a three-day visit to Kuwait via Doha transit on Wednesday morning to further cement bilateral ties and thank the two countries for supporting India during the raging second wave of Covid-19 pandemic by acting as logistics hub for liquid medical oxygen supplies to western India.

While the EAM will be carrying Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal letter for Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah, he will be holding meetings with his counterpart Sheikh Ahmed Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah with the objective of deepening ties in energy, trade, investment, manpower and information technology sector.

Even though the Indian minister will transit through Doha as he travels Qatar Airways, no meeting has been scheduled as of now at the airport with the Qatari leadership.

During the second wave of pandemic in India, Kuwait, which has a robust Indian community of nearly a million, supplied 5,267 oxygen cylinders, 450 metric tonnes of liquid medical oxygen, 66 oxygen concentrators, 11 ventilators and other items like drugs, oximeters, mask and gloves for India in its hour of crisis. All the medical support from Kuwait came to India from May 4 to June 8.

Qatar, which is the largest supplier of LNG and LPG to India, also proved to be the new logistic and transportation hub to the western India. It maintained the flow of passenger flights under the air bubble arrangement since August 2020, especially over the past weeks when many other airlines from the Gulf region closed. In the current situation, we may see Doha becoming a new transit hub for the Indians once the dust of pandemic settles down.

On April 27, Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani called up PM Modi and expressed his country's solidarity with India and conveyed that Qatar would provide all possible support to India. The Prime Minister conveyed that the Indian Ambassador in Doha would coordinate in the matter with his office. The Emir immediately issued directions to his foreign office to ascertain what was required by India and assist in the matter.

On April 29, one of the world’s largest cargo operators, Qatar Airways, announced that it would carry essential humanitarian medical cargo free of charge from around the world to India. Qatar Airways provided important air logistics to ferry international medical aid to India. On May 3, Qatar Airways sent three cargo flights - one each to Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai - carrying 300 MT of medical supplies aggregated from around the world. It included ventilators, CPAPS, oxygen concentrators and PPEs.

Qatar also played an important role in supplying liquid medical oxygen to supplement India's domestic production. On May 1, Minister Dharmendra Pradhan spoke to his Qatari counterpart, minister of energy Saad Al Kaabi. The latter assured that Qatar Petroleum would make available nearly 400 MT of liquid Medical oxygen every week for India.

The 700,000-strong Indian community in Qatar also contributed generously and mobilised 532 fully filled oxygen tanks and 43 oxygen concentrators. The first consignment of 200 fully filled oxygen cylinders and 43 oxygen concentrators was brought by INS Kolkata on May 10 and second consignment of 232 oxygen cylinders of 42 litre and 50 litre capacity were brought on board INS Tarkash on May 12. These have been used in various states, including Nagaland, Odisha, Bihar and Telangana.