Interview: Sheikh Meshaal Jaber Al Sabah, Director-General, Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA)

To what extent is foreign direct investment (FDI) integral to Kuwait’s strategy for realising its domestic objectives and international commitments?

SHEIKH MESHAAL JABER AL SABAH: It is a well-established fact that the economic, social and environmental impact of FDI plays a pivotal role in domestic investment by stimulating growth. For Kuwait, it serves as a conducive medium and an essential driver to support New Kuwait 2035’s developmental goals. All 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 are incorporated in the seven pillars of New Kuwait 2035 in a comprehensive and balanced way, while addressing existing challenges. The KDIPA contributed to both the national vision’s pillars and the goals of the SDGs – particularly with goals five, eight, nine, 10, 12 and 17 – as shown in Kuwait’s second Voluntary National Review 2023.

As a result, it is expected that FDI will make the economy more sustainable, prosperous and inclusive through the transfer and settlement of advanced technologies. This will foster innovation in green industries, renewable energy and smart cities. It will also link local suppliers and producers, develop the national workforce, create job opportunities in various fields and strengthen global partnerships for sustainable development through corporate social responsibility initiatives.

What measures is the KDIPA undertaking as part of national efforts to provide training opportunities to local talent and ensure technology transfer?

SHEIKH MESHAAL: Building local talent is at the core of the KDIPA’s mandate, given that it is a key part of New Kuwait 2035 and its pillar regarding creative human capital. The current government work programme spanning 2023-27 has three priority areas: nurturing human capital and improving quality of life, building an advanced and sustainable economy, and enhancing government efficiency and productivity.

The KDIPA has worked to nurture national talent through the economic impact stemming from its licensed investment entities that created job openings for the Kuwaiti workforce in various fields across administrative, professional and technical levels. These entities play a central role in developing national human capital through a broad range of training programmes and workshops, benefitting thousands of the national employees in several specialised and accredited technical programmes. These initiatives enhance local professional and administrative skill sets; and sharpen capabilities in financial analysis, project management, operational technology, technical and commercial applications, cloud computing and architecture. On-site field training for local engineers and technical staff in line with best international practices supports efforts to localise the adoption and utilisation of new technologies and diagnostic solutions for the Kuwaiti market.

How are investment policies and strategies adapted to make sure Kuwait maintains a competitive edge?

SHEIKH MESHAAL: The KDIPA follows a multi-faceted investment policy based on national policy frameworks, as well as the principles of the UN Conference on Trade and Development’s investment policy framework for sustainable development and its Global Action Menu for Investment Facilitation. The KDIPA’s most recent interim strategy for 2023-25 identified three strategic directions: adopting digital transformation in operations and service delivery; fostering resilience and the ability to perform amid arising global challenges; and strengthening capabilities to attract and retain direct investment. This is in line with the government’s work programme that identifies tourism and entertainment, transport, communications and logistics, housing, telecommunications and IT, financial services, renewable energy, and oil and petrochemicals as priorities.

Furthermore, the KDIPA is developing three economic zones to serve as competitive clusters in leading industries. For example, the Al Abdali Economic Zone will be integrated with the Northern Region mega-project.