ISLAND DEVELOPMENT TO SPARK EMPLOYMENT BOOM
KUWAIT CITY, March 20: Under the patronage of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Kuwait Investment Forum (KIF) 2018 was inaugurated Tuesday morning at Bayan Palace, attended by His Highness the Amir himself, symbolizing the importance of the event.
Organized by the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA) alongside the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the 2-day forum provides a platform on which, high ranking governmental officials, local and foreign investors alongside industry leaders and other financial institutions come together and pave the way to reaffirming Kuwait’s keen interest in promoting and facilitating value-added investments that focuses on the private sector and make the vision of “New Kuwait 2035” a reality.
During his opening speech, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah stated that the call to foreign direct investment in the State of Kuwait is relatively new but it is honest and promising, and although foreign investment is still undergoing development through legislations and other regulatory initiatives, it is indeed in a state of maturity where foreign investments are treated the same as local investments without complication or discrimination.
He also noted that the returns of such an endeavor is directly linked to courageous decision making and investment leadership, especially when referring to a country that enjoys a unique geographic location and strong vitality, “a stable democratic political scene, an independent and lawful Judicial System and an Honest Private sector, in addition to having reserves that allows it to cross the bridge of transformation with confidence and efficiency.”
The forum’s goal is to shed light on Kuwait’s attractiveness in terms of investment grounds, and its development in recent years in terms of legislation, regulation and opportunities. For this reason, KIF has attracted international representatives from the broad spectrum of the business world as well as business pioneers and entrepreneurs from Kuwait that actively contribute to the promotion and development of the business environment in Kuwait.
KIF will host a number of panels at the Sheikh Jaber Al- Ahmad Cultural Centre, lead by experts in topics such as investment in the future of Kuwait, trade facilitation, investment opportunities and options in vital sectors as well as financing and sustainable development. During a press conference on the sidelines of the forum, Director-General of KDIPA Sheikh Dr Meshaal Jaber Al- Sabah when it comes to diversifying income and factors that would negatively affect the business environment in Kuwait, both the legislative and executive authority of the country will fully cooperate to safeguard its integrity and correct faults.
When asked about the nature shares within a foreign company that enter the market through direct investments, he said that in accordance to the law, companies are able to own 100% of the shares and are not subjected to the local partnership policy. Also that the type of investors Kuwait is looking for are those that bring about added value and help attract new technology while breeding innovation and creating job opportunities. Furthermore, Director of International Affairs and Research Department at the Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority Noura Al-Qabandi, one of the speakers during the first panel asserted that Kuwait has enormous investment opportunity.
Calling it an “investment haven,” Noura stated that being one is not easy to come about, it requires God-given resources, land and attractive laws, all of which is available in Kuwait, and in the northern region in particular, which consists of a main land and five islands. “This is in the heart of the world,” citing that Failaka Island has always served as an international hub since the bronze age, connecting the East to the West. A place where civilizations have met, traded and resided.
The revival of this concept is one of the projects that Kuwait is working towards, it is directly aligned with Kuwait’s advancements in helping humanity and helping the world. “The time is now, our economy is strong, our relations are solid and aspirations are high,” stated Al-Qabandi while she explains how every island in the northern region of Kuwait a particular and specific value has, Failaka is the cultural center, which makes it a perfect place to establish an educational hub hosting world class universities, boarding schools and training centers.
Boubyan is the production island, where it will be split into a manufacturing zone, an information and communication zone, a logistics zone and a world-class port connecting the island to the rest of the world alongside railways. While Warba is the tourist island, it will host world class resorts, recreational activities and medical facilities. That being said, Noura asserted that this region offers multiple investment opportunities with very high returns. It also offers a smart infrastructure which means lower operating and repairing costs, in addition to vast lands that can be offered at the cheapest rates considering it is surrounded by emerging markets. Delivering his speech to the forum, Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Chairman Ali Thunayan Al-Ghanim thanked His Highness the Amir for his generous patronage and attendance of the forum which groups together local and foreign investors.
Chairman Al-Ghanim said that the KCCI and KDIPA had set their minds on making the second forum as successful as it was in its first incarnation in 2016. He indicated that foreign investors measure their trust of an economic entity or an economy of any given country through the local and national business personnel’s level of satisfaction. Several countries of various stature and economic capabilities have succeeded in their quest to attract foreign investors and similarly, Kuwait is eager to continue its policies to bring in more investments, said Chairman Al-Ghanim.
Kuwait has set a course to pursue economic diversity through various steps, which included the encouragement of small to medium size enterprises, microbusiness, as well as other ventures, said Chairman Al- Ghanim who indicated that the bigger picture in the form of grand development plans should also be with the concern of Kuwaiti authority. Minor and major development plans should go together if any nation seeks progression, he affirmed, adding that the funding of those plans would be through local and foreign investors. He indicated that Kuwait’s various contributions to local and regional development would create a sort of leeway for partnership and mutual business ventures with most world countries. The official cited the recently held Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq (KICRI) and other similar events as an indication that Kuwait was keen on the welfare of other countries. The event also displayed Kuwait’s willingness to create business opportunities with various countries and entities around the globe.
The current forum will be another milestone for local and foreign investors and Kuwait is keen on making it a success, said Chairman Al-Ghanim. In similar fashion, KDIPA’s Director General Sheikh Dr Meshaal Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah commended the Kuwaiti leadership for its efforts to diversify economic resources of the country. He indicated that this new policy was not only a political necessity but also a demand within efforts for economic reforms.
The Kuwait Investment Forum will hopefully tackle various issues connected with the country’s economic aspiration, affirmed Sheikh Meshaal who added that since KDIPA’s inception around $2.5 billion in foreign investments was attracted while some 1,000 job opportunities were created for Kuwaitis. Continuing on this road will have a positive impact on Kuwaiti economy and it would also create more business opportunities for numerous partners around the globe, affirmed the KDIPA Director General.
The current forum will be an opportunity for the world to be acquainted with Kuwait’s current political, economic, and financial developments, said the official who hoped that foreign investors would seek cooperation with Kuwait. After the speeches, a documentary was screened to the guests and participants, displaying the various business opportunities in Kuwait. Preliminary studies indicate that a national plan to develop Kuwaiti islands could help provide more than 200,000 jobs and generate an annual revenue of more than USD 35 billion, a senior Kuwaiti official said on Tuesday. In his speech during the “Kuwait Investment Forum 2018”, First Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al- Sabah said the aforementioned plan ensures that the country is well protected. He explained that prosperity in the islands would inevitably help carve out a densely populated region in the north, which makes security and protection all the more necessary.
By Ahmed Al-Naqeeb Arab Times Staff and Agencies