Kuwait launches ambitious development plan

Sunday 05/02/2017
Kuwaiti Oil Minister Essam al-Marzouq attends a parliament session in Kuwait City, on January 10th. (AFP)

London - Not to be outdone by its Gulf neighbours, Kuwait has launched its own development plan. Dubbed “New Kuwait 2035″, the initiative’s goal is to diversify Kuwait’s economy away from the energy sector, which makes up 88% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and increase employment opportuni­ties for its nationals.

Kuwait’s plan, like Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, is designed to generate capital through large projects, by developing the tourist industry and increasing economic output from the country’s private sector.

Kuwaiti Prime Minister Jaber Al-Hamad al-Sabah described the development plan as a means for “achieving an honourable living and a bright future for the youth and next generations” in announc­ing New Kuwait 2035 on January 30th.

Minister of Social Affairs and La­bour Hind Sabih al-Sabih said the plan envisions reducing the num­ber of expats from 70% to 60% of the population by the end of the decade.

“Today we launch initiatives that will transform our economy, create jobs, attract foreign direct invest­ments and facilitate knowledge transfer in the fields of renewable energy, information technology and the services sector,” Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah al-Mubarak al-Sabah said.

“Today we launch a consolidated and comprehensive strategy that will empower and inspire the coun­try for generations to come.”

Kuwaiti Oil Minister Essam al- Marzouq said at the New Kuwait 2035 launch that a 50% stake in Ku­wait’s power and water company would be sold to the private sector. The move is expected to pave the way for creating three new power companies with an emphasis on renewable energy and a goal of providing 15% of Kuwait’s energy needs via renewable sources by 2030.

“Kuwait is well positioned to mit­igate the impact of lower oil prices on the economy,” the International Monetary Fund said in a report re­leased last month. “Nonetheless, ‘lower-for-longer’ oil prices call for the steadfast implementation of reforms. The government’s… re­form strategy is rightly focused on reforming public finances and pro­moting a greater role for the private sector in generating growth and jobs for nationals.”

Kuwait announced a budget on January 31st that expects a deficit of $25.9 billion for the next fiscal year.