Ali Al Ghanim, chairman, KCCI and (left) Sheikh Dr Meshaal Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah, DG, KDIPA during

Ali Al Ghanim, chairman, KCCI and (left) Sheikh Dr Meshaal Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah, DG, KDIPA during

Mega Kuwait plan to draw $200bn FDI

In a bid to diversify its economy and reduce reliance on oil, Kuwait has opened doors for foreign direct investment to make the vision of `New Kuwait 2035’ a reality

April 2018


Following the footsteps of its neighbouring countries, Kuwait has finally set a course to pursue economic diversity and reduce its reliance on oil.
As a first crucial step, the country, for which the oil industry is by far the largest sector in its economy, representing more than half of gross domestic product (GDP), opened doors for foreign investment opportunities as it announced plans to build a mega-project that will attract up to $200 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) and contribute $220 billion to the country’s GDP.

The ambitious Northern Gulf Gateway, an integrated flagship project for realising the Kuwait National Vision 2035, will open investment opportunities for US, European, Chinese and Asian investors, said officials revealing details of the project at the recently held Kuwait Investment Forum 2018 (KIF 2018).

Held under the aegis of Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber, KIF 2018 was co-organised by the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA), and the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).

The development will create 300,000 to 400,000 knowledge-based jobs and attract three to five million visitors annually, opening new investment opportunities for the tourism, hospitality and leisure sectors.

“We have chosen the Northern Gulf Gateway development not only as an economic catalyst but also to take advantage of our geographic location, which lies closest to two of the world’s oldest civilizations,” said Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Kuwait.

Connected with China’s Belt Road Initiative, the development will have a world-class airport, industries, a knowledge zone, a leisure zone and an educational zone, he said.

“With Northern Gulf Gateway, Kuwait will be a catalyst in bringing together other countries in the region and across the world,” he added.

During his opening speech, Al-Sabah stated that the call to foreign direct investment in Kuwait is relatively new but it is honest and promising, and although foreign investment is still undergoing development through legislations and other regulatory initiatives, it is indeed in a state of maturity where foreign investments are treated the same as local investments without complication
or discrimination.

He also noted that the returns of such an endeavour is directly linked to courageous decision making and investment leadership, especially when referring to a country that enjoys a unique geographic location and strong vitality, “a stable democratic political scene, an independent and lawful Judicial System and an Honest Private sector, in addition to having reserves that allows it to cross the bridge of transformation with confidence and efficiency.”

Omar Kutayba Al Ghanim, CEO, Alghanim Industries & Chairman, Gulf Bank Kuwait, said: “Our growth story has only begun. We are an open, transparent market place; we are the oldest democracy in the region and we have a healthy balance sheet and great geographic location. There is no better time than now to be part of the Kuwait story.”

“Since the inception of our SME Fund, more than $7 billion were set aside for them and such support doesn’t happen in any other country,” he added.

Noura Al Qabandi, director of international affairs and research department, Citra, Kuwait, said: “We see the next big opportunity in the Northern region as an investment haven with God-given resources, land and a central location. The project is directly aligned with Kuwait’s advancement in connecting the world.”

She gave details of the different zones that will be part of the Northern Gulf Gateway. It will include an educational hub; a centre for smart industry and future technologies; a port of 8 million TEU capacity; a financial hub with a stock exchange, and a touristic destination that will also feature a world-class medical facility.

“Even if we develop just 20 per cent of the (Northern Gateway area), we could attract $150-$200 billion of FDI and boost Kuwait’s GDP by an additional $220 billion,” said Al Qabandi.



The Boeing Company announced that it would open its permanent office in Kuwait. Timothy Keating, executive vice president of government operations, Boeing, USA said: “The Middle East alone would need 63,000 pilots by 2035 as well as 69,000 technicians in addition to training to be offered for 100,000 crew. Such training partnerships are what we are looking at in Kuwait, so the young people here do not have to leave the country to be trained. We hope to add Kuwait to the list of our training centres as you have the right talent base and infrastructure here. We have about 50 employees now but watch the numbers grow.”



In another major investment announced at the KIF 2018, senior officials said Kuwait is considering building a new $12-billion world-class mega airport to meet the rapid growth in air traffic.

Directorate general of civil aviation Sheikh Salman Sabah Salem Al-Humoud Al-Sabah was quoted by state news agency Kuna as saying the government is studying putting up a tender for a new airport with a capacity of 25 million passengers a year.

“Taking into consideration the basic requirements for airport building, security and safety standards and weather, the new airport will be located in northern Kuwait,” he said.

He said the site would facilitate the establishment of an integrated airport that would provide all transport and logistic services. Sheikh Salman stated that the government would allocate the land and the private sector would build, operate and manage the project.

He forecast that up to $12 billion will be invested in the new airport, which would generate over 15,000 jobs. “Kuwait will witness a rapid growth in passenger and cargo movement in the coming 20 years, so we study such projects,” he clarified.

Sheikh Salman added that the DGCA has also started the building of a new Passengers Support Terminal (T4). “Work on this project is proceeding according to schedule,” he said, noting that it aims to ease congestion at the existing terminal at the Kuwait International Airport.

The T4 would accommodate about 4.5 million passengers annually and provide diverse services for travellers, he said.

He described the construction of the new cargo city at the Kuwait International Airport (currently in the first stage) as one of the most promising projects of the state development plan. The city will be built on an area of 3 million sq m and is expected to be the largest in the Middle East, he said. He disclosed that Kuwait is finalising a new civil aviation law to open the way for the establishment of new aviation companies in the country.

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