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WITH frustration riddling the country the past few years, any glimmer of hope comes as a glad tiding for the people in terms of getting out of the tunnel of crises that were generated as an outcome of the failure of the previous Cabinet and parliament to solve the challenges facing the country.
Therefore, the people are no longer interested in the shape of the Cabinet, or who its prime minister is or the ministers are, as they are more interested in embarking on the process of solving the economic crisis from which other issues get remedied.
In this regard, it is not a secret to anyone that our national income depends about 90 percent on oil. The slogans that were occupying the work programs of governments for nearly 60 years have never been put into practice.
Instead, the successive governments were working to increase dependence on oil until the state one day woke up to a bitter reality when the oil prices declined, followed by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. It then found itself facing a financial deficit that the country had never witnessed in its history. This was followed by the Russian-Ukrainian war, which made matters worse, especially in terms of food security.
This abnormal situation has not been witnessed by any of the Gulf countries, even though they are similar to us in everything.
These countries sought to take advantage of all opportunities with a very high level of professionalism. They were able to diversify their sources of income, benefiting primarily from the fact that the Gulf economy cannot dispense the manpower provided by expatriates. They invested in them and made them an added value.
Therefore, these countries sought to open their doors to everyone, until the number of expatriates reached more than 85 percent. In some of those countries, the percentage of citizens reached 20-30 percent. Everyone turned into a workforce that increases economic stability and growth, thus helping to enhance the welfare of the citizens.
In the Emirates for instance, the percentage of citizens does not exceed 18 percent of the population. Yet its economy grows annually between 3.4 and 4.7 percent. Expatriates invest about 83 percent of their income in the country. In this way, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain are moving forward, while Kuwait is constantly retreating.
While unjustified laws are being imposed on the expatriates in Kuwait, they do not constitute any burden on those countries, as they contribute to the reconstruction, building, and services.
For instance, the Burj Khalifa, which cost $1.5 billion, recovered its full cost within 12 years of its operation, and began making profits. Tourism generates about 800 million dirhams in just the Emirate of Dubai in one year.
Racism, loathing, self-isolation, and seeking to isolate the country in such a horrific way does not exist except in Kuwait, which has closed all entertainment and investment outlets. This led citizens to spend more than KD 4.2 billion annually on foreign tourism. If they had access to local entertainment outlets, they would have spent this huge amount inside the country.
This issue is one of the major series that the future government must take into consideration and pay great attention to, if it wants to hear, see and speak.
However, if it follows in the footsteps of the previous government, closes its doors and deafens its ears, especially if it will stay for a year or two and show no concern for whatever happens after that, then we will end up saying bye-bye to Kuwait.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times