ONCE again, Kuwait outperforms its GCC counterparts in major strategic projects … by adding tea, salmon fillets and breaded shrimp to the ration card. It thus surpasses the United Arab Emirates where the Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum decreed 100,000 golden residency visas for entrepreneurs, project start-ups and those specialized in programming.
The National Program for Coders announced the start of receiving golden residency applications from programmers residing in the country and around the world.
Kuwait has also surpassed Saudi Arabia where Apple Inc. chose Riyadh to be its first headquarters for its academy branch in the Middle East and North Africa.
Of course, such huge initiatives are not part of the calculations of the Kuwaiti officials. Kuwait has made great strides in development too, as it was the first to think of establishing free trade zones in the region.
I remember the meeting held by the late Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah with businessmen during which he said, “The entire Kuwait is a free trade zone area”. However, years later, the orphaned free trade zone turned into an area for the headquarters of local companies.
I also remember the plan of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to develop Kuwait economically, for which the state spent tens of millions of dinars. But in the end, other GCC countries implemented the projects mentioned in Blair’s plan. This is a real time interpretation of the saying – “Kuwait thinks and other Gulf states implement”.
With regard to the North Economic Zone project, the late Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad had traveled to Iraq to conclude agreements in this regard. Then there is the Silk City project, and the project for the development of the islands in order to make them regional tourist destinations … All of these have boiled down to subsidization of tea and breaded shrimp. What an amazing development!
All successive governments and the current government have mastered the art of creating slogans and drawing up bright plans, but the implementation is almost a form of imagination. Even individual initiatives do not get any support from them.
For instance, the recently-launched Kuwaiti satellite by Eng. Bassam Al-Faili was sponsored by the United Arab Emirates after Kuwait shut its doors for supporting and sponsoring him.
It is unfortunate that the government’s mindset is limited to supporting and searching for goods and commodities to benefit traders. This has led to an annual waste of about seven billion dinars in support of food items starting from Abu Kass cheese to rice and pasta, and many others, as if Kuwaitis live in poverty and need food aid.
This comes at a time when the Minister of Finance keeps on announcing that the citizen’s pocket will not be touched.
Here we must ask – Do senior government officials, parliament representatives, and major merchants need this support? Isn’t it better for the government to turn off the waste taps, which are fully opened in terms of overseas medical treatment programs, poor implementation of infrastructure projects, and many more? Isn’t it fair to deduct the seven billion dinars from the subsidies in order to pay off the citizens’ loans and lift the injustice imposed on tens of thousands of them?
This miserable reality that the country is experiencing has been caused by the acts of both the executive and legislative authorities, which are engulfed in the Don Quixote battles. On the other hand, other member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council have surpassed Kuwait by many light years.
Even though the voices of the national elites have been demanding to amend this declining path, the Prime Minister, the ministers and the parliamentarians neither hear nor see.
May Almighty Allah help Kuwait for what it will face in the near future as a result of such indifference.
Long-live the salmon fillet and the breaded shrimp in the ration card so that the mindset remains in the belly and does not develop into the head to think for the future.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times