Carmo Santos - Goan with a Mission

By Gasper Crasto – Kuwait 

Whoever saw Akshay Kumar’s film ‘Airlift’ is sure to be amazed by the true story of the 1990 Iraq invasion of Kuwait and revive some of the old memories of friends or relatives who were there in Kuwait during that time. 

According to media, the 2016 film was short in its research; incidentally, it was banned from cinemas in Kuwait for unknown reasons.

The film starring Akshay Kumar follows Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar), a Kuwait-based businessman, who carries out the biggest civil operation of evacuating Indians based in Kuwait.

For many Indians in Kuwait who survived the ordeal, this was almost like a trip down memory lane... 

But truth, as they say, can be stranger than fiction. Dramatic too.

The invasion was a very unfortunate incident in Kuwait’s history. 

Carmo Santos, a Goan businessman in Kuwait, sheltered and fed many families that were stranded at the Iraq-Turkish border and had to return to Kuwait penniless.

“I distributed hundreds of kilos of rice and flour that were in my godown, and even gave money to those who had little or none,” said Santos in one of his interviews with the online Kolkatta Mirror. 

“Many, including Kuwaiti locals, tried to find me to return the money they borrowed even after the war was over, many are still very grateful,” Santos adds.

For many Indians, it was an escape all right, but not always to victory. 

Santos, who stayed back in Kuwait, had advertisements placed in Goan newspapers, asking those who had returned to India to send him copies of their passports, sponsorship and employment details, so that he could help them get their jobs back in Kuwait. 

“Their families were in turmoil, marriages were broken,” Santos said, “I helped several people to revive their lives.”


Recalling the days, Santos further adds, “At least 10,000 to 15,000 Indians were left behind in Kuwait long after the invasion until Kuwait was liberated on 26th February 1991.”

“I witnessed kidnappings, rapes, murders, hangings, loot, fires, bombs, etc, during the tumultuous times.”

“During the invasion, I travelled to Iraq 16 times, 10 times to Baghdad and 6 times to Basra with friends in my 1983 model Caprice car. I used to contact my sponsors in Switzerland over the phone from Baghdad hotels and my family in Goa, updating them of the situation; there was no internet or mobile phones then.”

“I fought with prominent organizations because the Indian Red Cross Society's food and medicines including baby-milk distribution were not done properly. I pleaded with the Indian embassy to issue passports to many Indians who wished to stay back, and issue travel documents to those who wanted to go home to India.”

Goan businessman & activist Carmo Santos in Kuwait - with his family

Carmo Santos also helped arrange travel of Bangladeshis to India, and issue travel documents to Germans and Portuguese nationals to travel to India so that they could save their lives. 

“One of the Portuguese persons is in USA now with his family and still thanks me for his safe passage,” recalls Santos adding, “I helped many Indians, locals, Egyptians and Palestinians who needed financial help, travel or food support, medical assistance, burials of their relatives, etc.”

Carmo Santos was involved in helping thousands of homeless Indians regardless of their religion along with Bishop Francis Micallef (Malta), Fr. Dominic Santa Maria (Goa/UK), Fr. John Pinto (Mangalore) and Fr. Wendell of Philippines.


Some are born great, some have greatness thrust on them. 

The name Carmo Santos rings many a bell, he is one of the most popular Goans across the globe. He has achieved greatness and respect through his hard work, and humanitarian work.

His greatness lies in the fact that he is ever ready to help any human, and any Indian in particular. 

Santos was born in Merces, Goa on 27th Sept 1957. However, he lived much of his life at his maternal grandfather’s place Carmona, also in Margao, and now has a residence at Raia, Goa.

He was born to late army colonel Armando Viegas de Santos, and Luiza Bastelina Fernandes.

After studying in Goa as well as Bombay, he joined the Indian Navy. When he got an opportunity to go to Kuwait, he immediately grabbed it, and resides in the oil-rich country for the last four decades.


Santos is very fluent in the Arabic language.

After acquiring all the experience, he soon opened his own company called Al Qatani Shipping Co where he had a Kuwaiti and a Swiss national as his partners. Unfortunately both the partners died and the company had to be closed.  

At the moment, he works as a Managing Partner of Mahatta Trading Co WLL which has over hundred employees and various types of equipment and machinery. 

Apart from that, Santos has his own Santos International Freight Forwarders, and Trade Guide companies in Margao, Goa which he has leased to Goans.

In 2004, he was elected as President of Kuwait Goan Welfare Society. Later that year, he successfully organized Goa Day which was attended by nearly four thousand people. 

He has also organized annual May Queen balls, and Christmas Tree programs which were very popular among Kuwait Goans. He has felicitated a number of Goan students during such activities. 

Santos has also organized Konkani Tiatrs, Cultural programs, etc, due to which Goans living in Kuwait have never felt away from Goa. 


Santos has acted in T-Bush’s Konkani E-Cinema ‘Black Nhesop Atanchem Fashion’, and also in the epic ‘Nachom-ia Kumpasar’ for which he was also one of the producers.

Carmos Santos had his own team called Santos United FC which participated in Kuwait Indian Football Federation (KIFF) League, and also toured in other Gulf Countries to participate in tournaments. 

Santos is a great supporter of Konkani language, he represents Goa’s Konkani newspaper FUDDARI in Kuwait and the other Gulf Countries. 


Under the banner of his club Goan Cultural Centre, of which he is the founder President, Santos single-handedly organized Konknni Film Festival in February 2017 presenting superhit Konkani films such as Big Ben, Nirmonn, Home Sweet Home 2, Enemy, Noxibacho Khell (Mangalorean) and Nachom-ia Kumpasar.

Also, Santos earlier organized a Manddo Utsov in 2007. 

In November 2010, Santos and his club organized Global Goans Convention which was highly successful and admired all across the globe. 

In 2019, Santos organized the mega Gulf Voice of Goa singing competition in Kuwait with singers from all across the Gulf. It was a huge success and still talked about. 


During COVID 19, being President of Goan Cultural Centre, he has helped large number of people monetarily, he also arranged Vande Bharat Mission Flights from Kuwait to evacuate stranded people to Goa. 


In 2008, the Goa Government honored Carmo Santos with a Community Leadership Award.

In 2010, Santos arranged all the Goan clubs to join hands in celebrating the feast of St. Francis Xavier in Kuwait which has become an annual trend since. 

The ever green Goan lives happily with wife Carie in Kuwait, while his daughters are now working in Europe – elder Cristabelle in Madrid, Spain while Corraine is in London. 

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