Northern area could attract over $500 billion in investments

Development projects in northern areas of Kuwait could attract investments worth around US$550 billion, provided the country implements investor-friendly laws and regulations, such as tax reductions on investments and elimination of “painful bureaucracy”, said First Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah during a recent wide-ranging media interview.

The northern area, which would house the Silk City project and the Mubarak Al-Kabeer Port, will enable Kuwait to serve us an entrepôt to the vast hinterland that extends south to the Red Sea and to the west all the way to the Mediterranean and eastern Europe, as well as to neighboring countries of Iraq, Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council states.

Sheikh Nasser noted that New Kuwait 2035 Vision was an aspiration of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah “who lived when the people, not oil, was the most important element in the State.” People still remain the core of His Highness the Amir’s vision to transform Kuwait into an international financial and commercial hub, said Sheikh Nasser. He added that the world recognized the Kuwaiti people as humanitarians, due to their honorable stances for just causes and contributions in support of distressed people around the world.

The strength of Kuwait 2035 vision, said Sheikh Nasser, is in its geographical location. The country is located between ancient civilizations: the Civilization of Elam (now modern-day Iran) and civilizations that emerged between the Rivers Tigris and Euphrates. “This has granted Kuwait a point of strength upon which it can proceed with its vision and future,” he said.

Sheikh Nasser said Kuwait selected China as a partner in its development because of its capabilities in equipping Mubarak Al-Kabeer Port. China. He said goods shipped towards the north of the Arabian Gulf can either go through Kuwait or Iraq, a complementary to the commercial and financial hub.

Sheikh Nasser said the parliament and government should join hands to address any shortcomings facing the execution of the vision. He thanked Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim for proposing workshops between executive and legislative authorities to overcome obstacles and speed up implementation of the vision. His Highness the Amir instructed allocation of a budget aimed at improving state management system, he said, and the government was keen on keeping citizens informed about different aspects of vision, its importance and phases of implementation.

Asked about the importance of education to the vision of New Kuwait 2035, Sheikh Nasser said this issue was a top priority for the Supreme Council for Planning and Development. “Good education is the biggest thing you can offer to preserve the dignity of humans, and it requires huge investment in students and teachers as well as a great interest by society and parents,” he said. Education “is one of the important components of 2035 vision,” he added.

A huge and successful investment in northern areas would reduce the burden on the state in the creation of jobs for citizens. This will be applicable when suitable investment laws are activated and level of education improves so that nationals would be able to find appropriate jobs, he said. The government, said Sheikh Nasser, “wants to reduce its direct involvement in services but elevate their level. It will have mainly a monitoring role and will leave the society the freedom to chose type of services they want”.

Sheikh Nasser revealed that the draft investment law for Silk City and the northern area will be finalized soon and referred to parliament. The zones in Silk City will be placed for international bids in order to ensure transparency, security and economic outcome. The Silk City has a board of trustees consisting of renowned international figures, he said, “which will encourage capitals to flow to Kuwait and trigger international confidence in the developments.

Sheikh Nasser said his recent tour of the Arabian Gulf countries was aimed at working out a comprehensive development plan for the entire region, which would support local plans. He clarified that the vision 2035 paid great attention to the protection of the environment, hand-in-hand with water desalination stations. He added that the Silk City does not violate the constitution, bans monopoly and encourages open competition.

Staff Report