The government of Kuwait has updated its Kuwait Vision 2030, an ultimately overly ambitious project worked out with Tony Blair Associates and originally launched in 2010, to take on board shifting geopolitical and economic realities. This second version, the New Kuwait 2035 economic diversification vision, acknowledges that fiercely competitive financial hubs already exist in Bahrain, Dubai, and Qatar. What remains constant, however, is the digital path the world is currently treading. And Kuwait is in no doubt of its destiny to become a smart commercial hub of the Northern Gulf.
Thanks to Smart Thinking
The global smart city market is estimated to be worth USD2.6 trillion by 2025, and Kuwait is determined to feature prominently in the trend. The New Kuwait 2035 diversification program introduced by HH the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah is a seven-pillar affair that champions the intelligent workplace and habitat of tomorrow as showcased at the Construction Kuwait 2018 summit. Underpinning the vision is connectivity in and between new smart cities; a digital nervous system where fibre-optics connect smart infrastructure to homes and deliver digital entertainment, as well as supporting smart security, smart education, smart health, smart mobility and a smart government, economy, and wider commercial environment. Kuwait's Ministry of Communications has been laying out the fiber infrastructure in a three-phase program across various governorates in a move to expedite the possibilities of IoT, central to the national plan, well before the smart cities themselves materialize. And with 5G being the enabler of smart interconnectedness, Kuwaiti telecommunications operator Viva has already established a 5G Innovation Center together with Chinese telecoms stalwart Huawei.
…None Left Behind…
While the forward-looking vision responds to population growth and other demographic considerations, it seems that one of the country's oldest gems, its historic souk, is also destined for the smart treatment. Reportedly, sensors to be installed will manage the processes of cleaning and water management.
Smooth as Silk
Kuwait in February of this year revealed the initial USD86-billion phase of Silk City, a project that will span an area of 250sqkm. This phase features an international airport, as well as a rail network. Its digital innards will propel a logistics and industrial hub and free-trade zone for Mubarak Al-Kabeer Port. The signing of a number of MoUs with China attests to the nation's keen involvement in the city's development. Indeed, official details emerged subsequent to the visit of a 35-member Chinese delegation headed by vice chair of the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission, Ning Jizhe, and attended by the China Communications Construction Company and China Development Bank. The public-private model is to be used in developing certain aspects of the city, one that will ultimately house 700,000 people, and the infrastructure of which will include an Olympic stadium, and a 1-km tall Mubarak Al-Kabir tower. Adding to the futuristic vibe of this smart environment is the fact that the city will be built on islands, and be connected to the mainland by Jabar Bridge, the world's fourth longest.
Enter, too, South Saad Al Abdullah City
The brains behind South Saad Al Abdullah city boasts of it being the pioneering smart and green city of the Middle East. Work on the 64-sqkm area is earmarked for 2019 at a projected cost of USD4 billion. Realization of this vast scheme, which is set to become home to 400,000 people, is benefiting from the smart technology expertise of South Korea. That country is also a leading producer of transport solutions, and from the mobility angle, Kuwait's smart future will see AI assume control of traffic management and monitoring. The popular pastime of auto-drifting may never be the same again. Kuwait, then, while taking care not to overstretch the mark given the vagaries of global economics, is poised to realize the smart environment in which society and commerce will thrive in the years to come.