KUWAIT - Economy
Director General, Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA)
Meshaal Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah took on his role as Director General of KDIPA in 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.
Technology is a focus of Kuwait National Vision 2035 that capitalizes on the strength of the nation’s advanced ICT infrastructure. This is driven by robust market demand, an abundant talent pool of technologically-savvy youth, modern accommodative legislation, and competitive factor costs, which has contributed to successfully attracting some of the leading ICT companies. According to the E-Readiness Index, in 2022 Kuwait ranked first in terms of a population covered by at least a 3G mobile network, internet access in schools, e-commerce legislation, and sixth in ICT services exports and the use of virtual social networks. To date, KDIPA has licensed 67 investment entities, bringing a cumulative approved direct investment of over USD4.3 billion, of which 32.3% represents the ICT sector that has seen an expanded sustainable economic and social impact in the local economy. These international companies offered solutions for consumers, while enabling businesses to establish frameworks and policies to facilitate and accelerate Kuwaiti digital transformation through the use and adoption of IoT, AI, and cloud services, to develop smart e-government services, implement the smart cities strategy, nurture start-ups, and build the capacity of national human capital. KDIPA developed the Kuwait Economic Benefit Model (KEBM) to quantify the impact of the approved direct investment on the domestic economy generated by the licensed investment entities that commenced operations. In its latest “Third Report Assessing the Cumulative Impact on the Kuwaiti Economy,” expenditure exceeded USD2.3 billion during the 2015 to 2020 period covering salaries and the training programs of the national workforce, advanced technological devices and equipment, support for local content (goods and services), government taxes and fees, social responsibility activities, as well as development of the national export potential. The technology sector has an impressive impact on the local economy with a multi-faceted indirect impact and positive spillover and externalities.
KDIPA resorted to reaching out to potential investors, maintaining open lines of communication, as well as continuing to provide the best service delivery, aftercare, and facilitation services for both potential and existing investors. KDIPA started promoting its first of a kind: Al Abdali Economic Zone, which is strategically positioned in the northern region to provide a gateway for export-focused trade. KDIPA partners benefited from viable opportunities in the construction, engineering, and consulting field, as well as the supply of the construction materials and equipment. What supported KDIPA’s promotional efforts is the fact that Kuwait enjoys a dynamic infrastructure market with an active project pipeline listed under its consecutive development plans. In particular, construction activity has been vibrant especially in terms of transport infrastructure, residential housing, a new airport terminal, Mubarak Al-Kabeer Port, hospitals, and power generation, in all of which there is support for a leading private sector role in the economy.
Our goal is to foster innovation in advancing new work paradigms utilizing national youth talent, support KDIPA’s promotional, regulatory, and advocacy operations that are aligned with Kuwait National Vision 2035 objectives. All this as we enter the fourth phase of Kuwait’s Master Plan 2040 that provides a comprehensive physical structure framework for residential development and industrial expansion. This aims to initiate an effective participation of experienced investors in a plethora of available investment opportunities yielding benefits for the investor and meeting Kuwait’s developmental goals in terms of realizing wide-ranging economic and social impact. Meanwhile, KDIPA is initiating concerted efforts to enhance regional collaboration among its investment promotion authority peers in the MENA region in its capacity as the Regional Director of MENA in the Steering Committee of the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA).
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