For nearly 30 years Dalal Al Homaidhi has supported her husband in his role as Ambassador of Kuwait and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps. As she steps down as the doyenne of the diplomatic spouses corps, we pay tribute to her lasting contribution to the diplomatic community
For three decades, Dalal Al Humaidhi has been a constant presence in the London diplomatic community. She has been by the side of her husband Khaled Al Duwaisan, the Ambassador of Kuwait and long-serving Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, at more than 100 state occasions and countless National Day receptions.
As wife of the Ambassador of Kuwait, she has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to promote UK-Kuwaiti relations. Highlights include events to coincide with two State Visits, firstly the State Visit of Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah in 1995, where she organised the Return Dinner with Queen Elizabeth II, as well as a lunch for 700 students; and secondly the State Visit in 2012 of Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber, where Dalal organised the official lunch.
During her long posting, she has organised more than two dozen spectacular Kuwait National Day celebrations, not to mention the multiple private dinners she has hosted at the elegant Residence in Kensington Palace Gardens, one of the finest salons on the London diplomatic scene.
As wife of the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, a role she has fulfilled since 2003, Dalal has hosted dinners for newly-arrived heads of mission and their spouses. Her coffee mornings for spouses are legendary, making sure diplomatic spouses feel connected and part of the community.
In addition to her official duties, Dalal has done extensive charitable work. As an Honorary Member of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Society she hosted annual gala fundraisers at the Residence. As Patron of CFAB (Children and Families Across Borders) she held receptions at the Residence and ran the Kuwaiti stand at the International Spring Fair, which brought the whole diplomatic corps together to raise funds for a good cause. She also coordinated charity dinners in aid of the Barakat Trust, which provides grants for the study of Islamic heritage, The Hope School of Special Needs in Kuwait, and the Alzheimer’s Society.
For much of Dalal’s diplomatic life, her husband has been in the limelight, but she also has real experience of frontline diplomacy during the Gulf War.
When Saddam’s forces invaded Kuwait in the summer of 1990, the Al Duwaisans were two years into a posting to establish the first Kuwaiti Embassy in the Netherlands. Ambassador Al Duwaisan was on a home visit at the time of the invasion and found himself stranded in occupied Kuwait. In her husband’s absence, Dalal led efforts to bring the Kuwait communities across Europe together to mobilize support for Kuwait. This included a two-day rally in the South of France where she was interviewed by Le Monde, Paris-Match and Nice Matin. She Commissioned the eminent Dutch historian Dr Ben Slot to produce a pamphlet outlining Kuwait’s history and territorial integrity and held a meeting with members of the diplomatic community and media to distribute this information.
Dalal deployed innovative ways to raise awareness about Kuwait’s plight and keep it on the news radar. Kuwaiti children were invited to draw pictures about the realities in Kuwait which they presented to the ambassadors of member states of the UN Security Council. She also arranged for Kuwaiti children to write letters of encouragement and thanks to the embassies in Holland of countries that participated in the liberation of Kuwait.
Here in the UK, Dalal has deployed her formidable event organising skills in the service of Kuwait’s cultural diplomacy. In May 2005, she was appointed President of Wisal, the Association for Arab Ambassadors’ Wives, promoting a broader understanding of the culture, heritage and the role of women in Arab society.
She also staged lavish fashion shows, showcasing traditional Kuwaiti robes and accessories, and in partnership with the Royal Academy of Art she hosted lectures on Kuwaiti culture, on topics as diverse as Sadu (Kuwaiti embroidery), and pearling in Kuwait. She also arranged a concert The Liberation by Ali Zakariya Al Ansari for the Royal Academy of Music.
But perhaps Dalal will be most remembered in London for her pivotal role in the setting up of the Diplomatic Spouses Club of London. In 2014 she was a keynote speaker at the inaugural Spouse Programme of the Embassy Induction Seminar, at which diplomatic spouses opened up about their sense of loneliness and isolation in their new posting. Later, when she was approached by Hungarian diplomatic spouse Agnes Fenyvesy with the idea of setting up an official organisation for diplomatic spouses, Dalal was eager to give her the platform she needed.
Two meetings were held at the Embassy of Kuwait to discuss the scope of a proposed spouse association and how it could support all diplomatic spouses and partners – junior and senior; male and female. The DSCL was officially launched in 2015, with Agnes as its first President.
Following that, at every Induction Seminar Dalal encouraged new spouses to join the DSCL and get involved in its many activities. Seven years on, the DSCL is now a permanent fixture on the London diplomatic landscape doing vital work for diplomatic spouses. For the generations of diplomatic spouses to come, this will be Dalal’s lasting legacy.
Main photo: Caption: Dalal Al Humaidhi Al Duwaisan with her husband Khaled Al Duwaisan, the Ambassador of Kuwait and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, at their farewell garden party