Sep. 23, 2016


Sheikh Dr. Meshaal Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah

Kuwait

Sheikh Dr. Meshaal Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah

Director General, KDIPA

"Under the current second medium-term development plan, around USD103 billion has been allocated toward megaprojects."

BIO

Dr. Meshaal Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah took on his current role as Director General of KDIPA in July 2013. Prior to that, he was the Assistant Undersecretary/Chief of the Kuwait Foreign Investment Bureau (KFIB) Division under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry from 2008 until 2013. He also chairs the Permanent Committee on Streamlining Business Environment in Kuwait, served as Deputy Chairman for the National Offset Company (NOC), and served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Central Bank of Kuwait. He holds a PhD in HR & Marketing Management from the University of Portsmouth (UK), an MBA from Maastricht School of Management, and a BA in political science and public administration from Kuwait University.

What major events have characterized the past year for you?

KDIPA has benefited from the positive momentum witnessed in the past few years in Kuwait that has enabled the licensing and approvals of renowned global companies in the services sector, particularly ICT and energy activities. KDIPA is committed to its vision of Kuwait as an added value and innovation-based investment hub that fosters technology transfer, creates jobs and training for Kuwaitis, and supports local content in accordance with the national development agenda to pursue economic diversification and support a leading role of the private sector in the economy. In line with this, KDIPA also seeks to position itself as an efficient investment promotion agency (IPA) in charge of Kuwait's image building, investor targeting, investor servicing, and providing facilitation and aftercare, as well as policy advocacy. A key milestone for KDIPA this past year was organizing the Kuwait Investment Forum (KIF), the first investment promotion conference, under the patronage of HH the Emir of Kuwait and with the personal inauguration of the Prime Minister in early March 2016. KIF attracted more than 600 high-ranking officials, dignitaries, and private-sector participants from 24 countries. The KIF showcased Kuwait's unique attributes, highlighted the evolving legal and regulatory favorable developments, and presented a host of lucrative investment opportunities that portrayed a new culture of achievement in the dynamic Kuwaiti market. Such achievements, reinforced by a host of new economic laws passed, provide a profound basis to further consolidate KDIPA's efforts to ensure that direct investments are conducive to national sustainable growth and prosperity. In addition, KDIPA also entertained several outreach events, received delegations, participated in bilateral agreements discussions, and conducted extensive orientation to introduce its services, incentives, and guarantees under its establishing law. KDIPA is emerging into a new era of operation as a center of institutional excellence by adopting the best practices, nurturing a learning environment, and hiring young national professionals whose enthusiasm and energy will be the engine of growth and the way to achieve intended objectives.

The authority further collaborates with the Kuwait Authority for Partnership Projects (KAPP) to strengthen public-private partnerships. What PPPs does KDIPA hope to facilitate in the coming years?

Under the current second medium-term development plan, around USD103 billion has been allocated toward megaprojects covering north zone development, electricity and water, oil and gas, urban development, education, health, transport and communications, tourism, media, and environment. The Kuwaiti government is aware of the urgent need to expedite the diversification process of its revenues by getting the private sector to increase its share in GDP. Moreover, the government is actively seeking to attract powerhouse industries into new areas that focus on advanced technology and technical know-how to support economic diversification and to establish the needed ecosystem to build the pillars of Kuwait's knowledge economy.

How would you describe the business and investment climate in Kuwait at the moment?

Kuwait's business and investment climate is witnessing continued improvement. Incentives such as 100% ownership and being able to receive a license within 30 days are integral components of KDIPA's offer to attract foreign investors. Other incentives include performance-based tax credit, customs duties exemptions, and guarantees against expropriation, allowing free transfer of capital and profits, and sharing benefits under bilateral agreements. In doing so, KDIPA acts as a specialized agency promoting Kuwait as a lucrative investment destination, receiving applications for investment licensing and granting incentives, servicing investors, facilitating procedures, providing aftercare, as well as playing an active advocacy role for streamlining business environment and enhancing Kuwait's competitiveness in close coordination with all other government entities and various stakeholders. Under this advocacy role, KDIPA is assigned to head the Permanent Committee for Streamlining Business Environment in Kuwait (PCK), established by the Council of Ministers decision to coordinate national efforts, document achievements, and communicate improvements. Current membership of PCK includes nine concerned government entities entailing the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, the Ministry of Justice, and the Kuwait Municipality. Additionally, KDIPA launched a series of public-private open dialogues to identify reform priorities that will contribute to improving the business climate in Kuwait. Furthermore, KDIPA, in accord with its mandated tasks, keeps communication channels open with the investors, receiving their issues, addressing their concerns, and resolving identified barriers to doing business in Kuwait, in close cooperation and full coordination with other relevant government entities.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

KDIPA plans to become more pro-active in the coming year. We hope to adopt a well-planned and assertive approach when implementing our multifaceted promotional campaigns, generating investment leads, conducting investor-targeting initiatives, and developing investor services operations. The dedicated efforts of our team of young professionals, accompanied by well-articulated strategic directions, are fundamental to achieving our intended goals to make Kuwait an investment location of choice. We shall be building on the success attained this year and will work to further strengthen our service delivery model and geographic outreach. In this regard, we take it upon ourselves to continue providing the needed facilitation to attract value added investments that will advance our country's economic growth and steer its development path toward an innovation-based economy focusing on ensuring sustainability in the face of rising global commitments and challenges.

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