KUWAIT: US First Lady Laura Bush arrived at Ali Al- Salem Airbase in Kuwait, a strategic ally of the US, yesterday as part of a Middle East tour billed as a breast cancer awareness campaign. Upon arrival, she was greeted by Education Minister Nouriya Al-Sabeeh who is currently the only female member of the Cabinet. The First Lady began her Gulf Middle-East tour in the United Arab Emirates and visited Saudi Arabia before coming to Kuwait yesterday. The tour, which was set to discuss breast cancer as part of
the US-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research was not the topic of discussion in Kuwait because Kuwait has not signed on to the year old partnership. Instead Bush discussed education along with speaking to women's activists and political figures.
Notably, breast cancer is the leading cancer for women in Kuwait, which causes more than 500,000 deaths worldwide.
Bush met with Kuwaiti women leaders at the co-ed diwaniya of Undersecretary of Education Sheikha Dr. Rasha Al-Sabah where the all female attendees discussed women in politics and campaigning, among other issues. Former Minister of Education Maasouma Al-Mubarak, the first female Cabinet member, attended the meeting, along with several of the top female candidates in the 2006 Parliamentary elections, and other intellectuals.
The First Lady discussed the importance of education yesterday evening at the Hamoud Al-Saddoun Educational Center in Jabriya. The Kuwait chapter of AMIDEAST (America Mid-East Educational and Training Services Inc.) hosted the event which focused on the importance of English language education. AMIDEAST, which began in 1992, has taught English to over 5,000 students in Kuwait.
Bush elaborated on a program her husband, US President George Bush, began three years ago, "The English Access Program helps students in the Middle East and other regions improve their skills in English and also equips young people to compete for better jobs and seek higher degrees. " She furthered saying, "In addition to that, they learn about the American culture and democratic values." President Bush launched this partnership initiative in 2004 to improve education to foster democratic ideals.
During her talks with more than 200 men and women at the AMIDEAST hosted meeting, the First Lady, while sticking to her main topic on the importance of education, commented on the importance of early detection of breast cancer and encouraged women to get mammograms. Notably, mammograms and self-examinations are among the top ways to detect breast cancer in its early stages and help save women's lives.
On Wednesday evening, the First Lady met with HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. Today she will meet with American troops based in Kuwait, which hosts around 20,000 permanent troops and is a major staging area for Operation Iraqi Freedom