Plan to develop islands holds promise – Boeing to open Kuwait office

KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah attend the second Kuwait Investment Forum at Al-Tahrir Hall in Bayan Palace yesterday. – KUNA

KUWAIT: Kuwait is seeking billions of dollars in foreign direct investment to boost the economy and reduce dependency on oil revenues during the second Kuwait Investment Forum, which opened yesterday under the patronage and attendance of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak invited foreign investors to invest in Kuwait, noting that Kuwait has taken the necessary measures to facilitate business by reducing customs fees and taxes, simplifying banking and financial transactions as well as creating the most suitable atmosphere for foreign investors to do business.

“Kuwait is eager to continue its policies to bring in more investments. Kuwait has set the course to pursue economic diversity through various steps including encouraging small and medium enterprises and microbusinesses as well as other ventures,” Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Chairman Ali Thunayan Al-Ghanem told the forum. Kuwait Direct Investment Public Authority (KDIPA) Director General Sheikh Meshaal Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah commended the Kuwaiti leadership for its efforts to diversify the economy, indicating that this new policy is not only a political necessity but also part of efforts for economic reform.

First Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said preliminary studies indicate that a national plan to develop Kuwaiti islands could help provide more than 200,000 jobs and generate annual revenue of more than $35 billion. He cited an ongoing feasibility study over a plan to merge the islands project with Kuwait’s Silk City enterprise, saying the proposition was highly likely at this point.

Meanwhile, Boeing announced yesterday a plan to open a permanent office in Kuwait this year. Recent studies by the giant US aircraft manufacturer have shown that by 2035, Kuwait needs 36,000 pilots and around 100,000 crewmembers, Timothy Keating, Executive Vice President of Government Operations for Boeing, said in his speech at KIF. Omar Al-Ghanem, CEO of Alghanim Industries and Chairman of Gulf Bank, said Kuwait has several factors to attract capital, notably the country’s geographic location and its new and enhanced infrastructure.

Later yesterday, various ministers spoke about the outlook of Kuwait’s “Vision 2035: New Kuwait” and shed light on the progress to date on each of the program’s seven pillars. Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al-Sabeeh detailed various plans that are in the works, including an anti-corruption project that is part of a national anti-corruption strategy, an integrated strategic plan for e-government and a study on the fourth structural plan of Kuwait. Sabeeh added a human capital project will provide innovative curricula and new jobs, elderly care units will be set up in Hawally and Ishbilya, and general design specifications for buildings will be developed to facilitate the lives of people with disabilities.

Kuwait is rolling out investment partnerships and strategic investment opportunities valued at more than $100 billion in key economic and social sectors for investors that include information and communications technology, oil and gas, renewable energy, electricity and water, urban development and housing, healthcare, education, transport, tourism and the North Zone development. The two-day KIF aims to support the continued efforts directed toward boosting Kuwait’s economy and improving its business environment. It also aims to reiterate the government’s interest in promoting and facilitating value-added investments into Kuwait’s dynamic market, which focuses on the private sector leading economic activity, innovation and competitiveness. It is co-organized by KDIPA and KCCI.

By Faten Omar and Agencies