KUWAIT CITY, Dec 17, (KUNA): His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al- Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah headed a Supreme Council for Planning and Development meeting on Wednesday held after assessment and follow-up committee talks. Matters discussed include an August 2015 report by the public policies and administrative development committee on five of Kuwait’s islands, according to Minister of Social Affairs and State Minister for Planning and Development Hind Al-Subeeh.
The study, which identifies the characteristics and advantages of the islands (by order of size) – Boubyan, Failaka, Warba, Miskan and Awha – and the benefits of their development in light of similar international models, has received much praise, the minister added.
The proposal, according to the minister, calls to create a “comprehensive and multi-purpose free trade zone which would act as an economic and cultural gateway for the northern Gulf region and Kuwait, and would support the Kuwaiti economy – thus raising its regional and international competitiveness.” The plans fall in line with the directions of His Highness the Amir to transform Kuwait into a global financial and trade hub, she said.
It will also offer local, regional and international private businesses the opportunity to provide a “tangible contribution to the execution, operational and funding activities (of the project),” she said. “This will aid in limiting the dependency on public funds and in providing job opportunities for young Kuwaitis looking to work outside of the public sector.”
So far, the minister said that the matter has been adopted by the Supreme Council for Planning and Development and handed over to the Cabinet – with a request to be handled with a sense of urgency. Kuwait has said it will establish a free economic zone on five islands close to the shorelines of regional heavyweights Iraq and Iran with large investments open to the private sector.
The decision was taken by the Gulf state’s supreme planning council which met late Wednesday, under chairmanship of His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamed Al- Sabah the state-run KUNA news agency reported. Planning Minister Hind al-Sabeeh said the project is based on inviting local, regional and international private sectors to finance, execute and operate the zone. She said the zone will be the economic gateway for the northern Gulf once completed.
The new venture comes amid a sharp fall in oil income which contributes over 90 percent of Kuwait’s revenues. Boubyan, the largest island where Kuwait is already building a multi-billiondollar container harbour, is part of the project. The first phase of Boubyan’s state-ofthe- art port is due to come on line soon. The islands spread over an area of several thousand square kilometres and are in close proximity to Kuwait’s planned Silk City project in Subbiya. Work is underway on a 25-kilometre (16-mile), $2.6 billion causeway linking the capital with Subbiya. Kuwait has awarded projects worth a record $30 billion so far this year despite falling oil revenues, according to Middle East Economic Digest (MEED).