Late Amir Sheikh Sabah visioned Kuwait as regional business hub
KUWAIT CITY, Oct 1: If His Highness the late Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al- Ahmad, may God rest his soul, was privileged to have the titles Dean of Diplomacy and Leader of Humanitarian Action, given his prominent roles politically and socially at the global level, we also have the right to describe him with the insightful economic vision and the supervisor of the economic future, reports Al-Rai daily. This was in more than one position, and it appeared in more than one decision and direction, and it was evident in many of his speeches – may God have mercy on him – during a career that spanned more than 14 years, which was the period of his rule in the country.
Since the beginning of his tenure in power in the country, the late Amir had launched his lofty desire to transform Kuwait into a regional and international financial and commercial center, by developing a national project that would advance the national economy and enhance the comprehensive and sustainable development process.
In terms of addressing the imbalances in the Kuwaiti economy, His Highness’s directives have always focused on the need to address them through a package of measures to ensure correcting the course of the state budget and activating the role of the private sector to assume its responsibilities by actively contributing to economic activity.
The trend towards renewable energy was also one of the Kuwait’s desires to provide part of Kuwait’s needs for generating electricity, in addition to dealing with many economic crises, including the global financial crisis in 2008, to the oil price crises in 2016 and then during the current fiscal year, when the emerging COVID-19 (corona crisis) shattered the world economy. Kuwait achieved economic revival on more than one level during the late era, from the completion of many infrastructure projects in several areas, health, education and others, to the leaps the country made on the indicators of ease of business and global competitiveness, to the development of the capital market, which was crowned with the promotion of the Kuwait Stock Exchange to be among the emerging markets on 3 global indicators.
These were among the achievements during the reign of His Highness the late Amir, the establishment of a fund to finance entrepreneurs who own small and medium enterprises with a capital of two billion dinars.
The late Amir has always emphasized that structural imbalances in the national economy constitute a heavy burden and a real concern that threatens the country’s ability to implement its programs and face its financial obligations, stressing in more than one speech and on numerous occasions, throughout his reign, the need to address these imbalances, and warning that the effects of our economic reality spells dangers, whose limits are difficult to predict.
In light of this, His Highness – may God have mercy on him – repeatedly called for a package of measures to be taken to ensure correcting the course of the state’s general budget, especially in light of its dependence on oil, whose prices went through more than one crisis during the reign of the late Amir, so whoever was negatively affected by the global financial crisis in 2008 to the ‘oil’ crisis in 2016, then the 2020 crisis, which plunged the price of a barrel as a result of the battle for market shares on the one hand, and the repercussions of the spread of the corona virus on the other hand.
More than once the need to find remedies for misuse of financial surpluses was emphasized and not investing them in the correct manner, and to activate the role of the private sector in assuming its responsibilities by actively participating in economic activity, with the need to stop the manifestations of irresponsible consumer waste.
The late Amir had a vision for ‘development; based on a deep strategic concept that includes economic, political and security dimensions, starting with the relentless pursuit of the restoration of Kuwait’s role as a regional financial and commercial center.
The 14 years in which His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad commanded the Kuwaiti ship was filled with many big development and service projects that contributed to translating His Highness’s vision for the revival and development of the country, in various fields, including health, education, housing, and infrastructure, in addition to providing support to the local private sector to play its for role in promoting the process of economic and social development.
The “Kuwait 2035” vision was the brainchild of the late Amir to transform Kuwait into a regional and global financial and commercial center to attract investment, with the private sector leading the economic activity, achieve human development, promote competition and raise production efficiency under a supportive institutional apparatus, while exploiting the Kuwaiti potential with all the basic ingredients to launch this future vision and providing investment and development opportunities, given Kuwait’s distinguished geographical location, good legislative structure, an integrated judicial system, and a balanced foreign policy.
The period of the late Amir’s rule witnessed the global financial crisis in 2008, which affected the local economy just like the other countries of the world. The state, under the leadership of His Highness the late Amir, adopted an approach that led to reassuring and reducing the effects of the crisis locally, as the national portfolio was established with a capital of 1.5 billion dinars, with the aim of preserving the stability of the stock exchange market, which reduced the impact of the crisis on investors in the capital market, and contributed to limiting stock declines.
The Financial Stability Law was also approved, with the aim of providing legal protection for troubled companies that are able to continue, in addition to issuing a law to guarantee deposits with banks, as a precautionary measure, to provide reassurance in the banking sector and among depositors, as part of measures taken to limit the effects of the global economic crisis.
Kuwait, during the reign of the late Amir, for the first time, ranked among the top 10 countries that improved in the results of the World Bank Index of ease of doing business in 190 countries, in its latest version, with the bank praising the progress made by Kuwait in enhancing the role of the private sector and improving the business and investment environment and the assertion that Kuwait is “moving in the right direction.”
Kuwait also came among the most improved countries in the Middle East in terms of developing its competitiveness, according to the Global Competitiveness Index issued by the World Economic Forum (Davos) in October of last year, after it jumped 8 places to rank 46 globally out of 141 countries included in the index. .
In support of the Kuwaiti entrepreneurial youth, and in the interest of developing the small and medium-sized enterprises sector, given the importance it constitutes for any economy, the National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises Development was established in the era of His Highness the Amir, specifically in 2012, with a capital of two billion dinars, in order to finance the entrepreneurs’ projects, and direct Kuwaiti youth towards private work, to be wealth makers instead of relying on government employment. Within his insightful future economic vision, came the lofty desire of the late Amir to secure 15 percent of the domestic demand for electricity through renewable energy by 2030, which would save more than $ 2.46 billion annually.
This desire will be implemented by reducing the crude oil used to generate electricity locally, which will increase oil exports and refined materials and maximize state revenues. The Kuwait Stock Exchange also made great leaps in the era of the late Amir, on several levels. In 2010, the Capital Markets Authority was established with the aim of regulating securities activities in a manner that is fair, competitive and transparent, developing the stock market, diversifying and developing its investment tools, while seeking to comply with international best practices, and providing protection for dealers in securities activity.
The stock exchange was also allocated at the end of last year by selling 44 percent of its shares through an auction to the private sector, in addition to citizens subscribing to 50 percent of the company’s shares, and the exchange received the promotion within 3 global indicators for emerging markets, namely, FTSE Russell and Standard & Poor Dow Jones, the latest of which is “MSCI”, which will go into effect next November.