|Suddenly, out of the blue, our government decided to release a new vision for transforming Kuwait into a financial and economic hub with the aim of attracting investments and with the private sector leading the economic activity.|
The new vision was summarized in a video presentation that was less than 15 minutes long. It basically aims at converting our five islands into attractive touristic centers on par with the standards of Singapore, Luxemburg and Venice within the next 18 years from now. It also calls for building new museums, cultural and sports centers and many restaurants on our five beaches, as well as creating the old Silk City and making Kuwait a trade hub for connecting the East and the West.
This new vision calls for restructuring our population composition such that 40 percent of the total population consists of Kuwaiti citizens instead of the current 32 percent. It does not acknowledge the fact that execution of more projects will require more expatriate labor force and not less.
This vision recognizes the current issues of reduced oil prices and revenues, increase in our medical bills to more than KD 3 billion per annum as well as more demands for housing and increased unemployment rate. This has increased by six folds in the last 13 years, which is very alarming and no measures have been taken to curtail such huge bill.
Unfortunately, the vision is very general in nature. Some of its recommendations date back to more than seven years and are yet to be implemented such as the Silk City and the transformation of Kuwait into a financial center like Singapore. The government has been speaking about this for seven years and has now included it in the 2035 vision.
It would have been better for our government to focus firstly on finding alternative sources of income, in consultation with a foreign organization, in order to pave way for non-dependence on oil for revenues. The government should make this its top priority and then insist on adhering to it, as there are 2 trillion barrels of oil to meet the global demand which will double in 2050. It is crucial for our coming generations and the need to provide alternative sources of income besides oil. This is the challenge that needs to be addressed.
The vision should come from our culture and should be shared and workable, instead of waking up to the vision one day without any clue or background details. Did any of us in Kuwait ask for it, and waste our money and resources to meet the new vision? Why? There should be solutions to the local needs such as better education system, more job opportunities, training and developments, productive housing and balancing the budget. Most importantly, a new source of income besides oil source must be found. These objectives are essential, accepted and within the reach.
Who is going to lead this new vision? How? When? What about the structure of the team to follow up the New Kuwait 2035 Vision? How will the government handle the privatization process if it truly believes in the role of the private sector and has made it the main focus of its strategy? Or must we wait for another 10-15 years for this?
There are certainly no signs that something is going to be done in this regard soon. Are we really serious about such a vision or is it just an exercise of paper work and copying others?
By Kamel Al-Harami
Independent Oil Analyst