Kuwait's development plans start to fall into place

The government's development plan aims to transform Kuwait into a financial and commercial centre. [Stephanie McGehee / Reuters]

The government's development plan aims to transform Kuwait into a financial and commercial centre. [Stephanie McGehee / Reuters]

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Despite the slow start for the Kuwaiti government's development plan, approved in 2010, many of the obstacles that had hindered progress are being removed, and important projects are underway, according to financial experts and government officials

The government vowed to implement the plan, which aims to reduce the country's dependence on the oil sector and promote private sector participation in development projects. It is part of a strategic vision extending to 2035 that seeks to transform Kuwait into a financial and commercial centre.

The estimated $104 billion plan aims to create more than 1,000 projects in various sectors including oil, gas, electricity, water, education, health and social welfare, as well as infrastructure projects such as airports, ports, and housing. The plan aims to raise the annual gross domestic product rate to 6.5%.

Critics of the plan say the slow start happened because the government did not understand the actual concept of the economic development plans.

"We must first address the flaw that has existed in the government's understanding of these plans from the outset, and then we can proceed to fulfil the desired objectives," Jassem al-Saadoun, chairman of the board of directors for the Shall Consulting and Investment Company, told Al-Shorfa.

The solution lies in setting the economic development plan on the right track "through the formation of a new government by the state, one that recognises the importance of this plan, whose implementation has become inevitable", al-Saadoun said.

Kuwait's ruler, Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad, swore in a new government on Sunday (May 8th), lead by Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah.

Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd, deputy prime minister for economic affairs and minister of state for development affairs in the former and current cabinet, said during a recent press conference that the government's development plan is "proceeding according to schedule and an acceptable portion of it has been completed".

Economic analyst and general director of Wethaq Takaful Insurance Company, Majed al-Ali, said that although the development plans "are experiencing many obstacles, in some cases bringing them to a halt, many of the projects put in place have become a reality, including the seaport, the foundations of which were laid on the island of Boubyan, and also the Al-Sabia and Jaber bridges connecting Kuwait and its islands located in the Arabian Gulf."

He told Al-Shorfa that these projects are in addition "to the many health projects that the government began to implement, whether the establishment of new hospitals or the development of old ones".

Al-Ali called on the government to appoint an official spokesperson to announce these projects to citizens so they will know and be assured about the direction being taken.

Hajjaj Bukhdur, an economist, said the plans "faced extreme difficulty this round because of a number of fundamental loopholes that have since been closed by requiring identification of funding sources, the resources used, and the skilled manpower that would be utilized in implementing this plan."

"Because of those gaps, the plans were proceeding like a ship without a sail, a captain, trained crew, or oars which caused the ship to be tossed between the interests of the executive and legislative branches," Bukhdur told Al-Shorfa.

He pointed out that the gaps were remedied only recently, and the political escalation that led to the resignation of the government caused interruptions in execution and debate on the development plans.

Bukhdur said that the existence of such development plans "will reduce the annual depletion of oil resources, and the surplus can be stored for future generations. This is a great achievement that we hope will translate into more action in the near future. However, until now, activity has been limited to a few projects involving alternative energy."

In order to achieve the ultimate goal of becoming a centre for finance and commerce in the region, Bukhdur said that Kuwait needs to conduct studies "on tax laws and the amendment, modernisation and development of corporate laws, which also has not occurred yet", and improve the educational system.

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    تامر الحلاواني

    2011-7-26

    Certainly, it is possible that the State of Kuwait can attract tourists from all the world’s countries. Today, Kuwait is witnessing significant development and an investment movement in all aspects of tourism. And it is not necessary that the majority of tourists come to see monuments. In fact, some people say that Kuwait is not prepared to attract tourists because it has no monuments. Besides, there are many tourists who want to discover the Arab countries and their architecture in order to enjoy the oriental atmosphere. In fact, they love the oriental food, the warm atmosphere and shopping in the Arab markets. Thus, Kuwait is among the most famous Gulf countries. Besides, it is possible to go to Kuwait by ship. All these advantages can help Kuwait to be a tourist destination, especially since it has a developed infrastructure and many first-class hotels. Moreover, there are many tourist and entertainment cities that include all the means of entertainment for tourists. Besides, Kuwait has witnessed a developmental campaign in order to have clean and large streets, in addition to the high buildings which attract the admiration of Arabs and tourists. In fact, there are many people who want to visit Kuwait in order to enjoy comfort and entertainment. And there are many beautiful towers from which you can see many beautiful views and traditional markets. Besides, there is a great interest and support to energize the tourist movement and the developed airports. It is also possible that Kuwait will achieve more development like the Emirates, which is the first tourist destination among the Arab countries, thanks to its fame, and especially the City of Dubai. Thus, Kuwait may become developed in the future, like Dubai, God willing.

  • abeer

    2011-7-26

    Kuwait is a beautiful that has many beautiful and wonderful places admired by many people. Kuwait is advancing and improving, and there are many people who want to visit it to enjoy it and be tourists. However, the measures taken by the government on the borders are very difficult, prolonged routine measures that prevent many of those who want to come to Kuwait from actually coming. This doesn’t help make Kuwait a real destination for tourists, and doesn’t help attract them to enjoy tourism in the country. Also, the very hot, humid atmosphere is another reason why tourists do not come to Kuwait in the numbers we wish for. But I want Kuwait to be the first-ranking country in tourism, which would upgrade the status and the economy of the country at the same time.

  • fahad

    2011-7-25

    Given its present state, Kuwait cannot be a tourist attraction for many reasons, the most important of which is the shortage or the lack of pleasant, natural tourist attractions, like mountains, rivers, green meadows or historical sites. In fact, desert dominates most of the geography of this country. Therefore, there are no springs and no rivers. In addition, the lack of interest in the Kuwaiti political system and the failure to develop it led to its neglect and weakness. In addition, Kuwait is located in a tense geographic region. It lies near Iran, and the Iranian threats in general, including to Kuwait, in addition to the tensions witnessed in the Middle East in general and the current Arab revolutions. Besides, Kuwait is going through internal conflicts that have led to changing the government many times within a short period of time. This has sent the wrong signals and has had a negative impact on tourism, leading to the extinction of this important sector. However, I believe that Kuwait is approaching a great opportunity in this sector, and can take some steps and measures that can stimulate tourism in the country, namely planning to create an infrastructure by establishing buildings that have a strikingly civilized and tourist nature, like what the UAE did. The latter made Dubai into an international tourist attraction, thanks to its tours and extremely beautiful tourist resorts. Thus, I believe that Kuwait possesses many advantages that could promote tourism, especially since Kuwait is an oil-producing country that enjoys an oil wealth that can make it a great financial power, which is able to attract many investments that will affect tourism in Kuwait. In addition, Kuwait is endowed with an exceptional geographical position, in relation to the Arab Gulf, if it manages to exploit it appropriately. Therefore, I think that Kuwait can be a tourist attraction in the future, but it must carry out a lot of work in this respect.

  • فؤاد الرباع

    2011-7-23

    Kuwait could be a tourist country and a destination for tourists, because it has all the qualifications of a tourist country, as it has entertainment places, hotels, restaurants, artificial lakes, cafes, clubs, commercial shops and shopping sites. Kuwait is also especially gifted with items that illustrate the history of the country, such as costumes, symbols, and monuments, as well as good environmental conditions, in addition to many aspects that tourists like. Kuwait should give attention to the media aspect, which has broad resonance all over the world in order to convey the idea to all countries about the entertainment and tourist sites that Kuwait has, in order to attract tourists. As such, Kuwait would benefit from the revenue of tourist income to develop the economic aspect and broaden the movement of tourism in the country.

  • سالم العلي

    2011-7-23

    It is quite possible that Kuwait will become the focal point of interest for tourists in the world, if it establishes tourist projects in the country in order to add them to the other tourist resorts which already exist in Kuwait, namely historical sites, in addition to the lovely beaches that Kuwait enjoys. Such beaches could be rehabilitated and used as resorts to attract tourists, especially since Kuwait enjoys a warm winter and could employ such things to attract tourists. In addition, the Kuwaiti citizen is experienced enough in traveling and tourism, because he is fond of it and he can employ this expertise in pther countries to promote internal and external tourism, to encourage people to visit such places and enjoy their natural beauty.

  • رافع

    2011-7-22

    I do not believe Kuwait could be one of the areas that appeal to tourists and attract them, at least in the present time, because I believe that the Kuwaiti lands are mostly deserts, which require a great deal of work and projects. These projects would contribute to transforming a number of areas to tourist sites that attract tourists. This is not available right now, and this has affected the tourism sector in Kuwait, especially since Kuwait is considered one of the countries that do not have many monumental sites through which tourism could be activated and visitors and tourists could be attracted. Therefore, great efforts need to be made in this field, in order to activate this important aspect.

  • أحمد

    2011-7-15

    Most Gulf States have surpassed Kuwait in tourism, because they have carried out a lot of work in order to make tourism a success, bearing in mind that they used to be a barren desert, while Kuwait was more advanced and developed compared to them in terms of infrastructure. However, the various quick steps which were taken by the Gulf States helped themin a big way to rank first in the tourism sector in the Gulf. I wonder what the UAE is, being the first at the Gulf level, or Bahrain and Qatar. As far as I am concerned, Kuwait must currently take advantage of the experiences of these neighboring countries, in order to promote tourism. The government must also establish more projects and organize many events, which have many followers from all over the world, in order to make Kuwait attract visitors, especially since we still have a tourism that does not reach the required level. In fact, the majority of tourists consider Kuwait a transit destination. Thus, we hope that it will become a major tourist destination. In fact, we are a rich country. Thus, it is possible to invest oil’s revenues inside Kuwait, particularly by businessmen, instead of investing them outside our country and benefiting foreign countries. The government must work on the same thing and invest money in developing tourism and give the required support to promote tourism in the country. Here, I call for energizing tourism, because it has become clear that the latter plays an important role in promoting and improving the economic situation in the country considerably, instead of relying on oil as the sole source of income. In addition, this will make the country the cynosure of all tourists and will help create a lot of beautiful resorts in the country, which will entertain Kuwaitis as well as other tourists. I also think that there are a lot of shopping centers in Kuwait and other things that attract tourists. Yet, at the same time, the difficulty of getting a visa and the strict procedures imposed on entering the country will be one of the most important handicaps to the coming of tourists. Thus, the government must facilitate such procedures, in order to host an increasing number of tourists.