Founded in 1957, Bukhamseen Group Holding is one of the largest financial and industrial companies in Kuwait. What is your vision for the company?
Our vision is to continue what we are doing in a more diversified way. When we started the family business and entered into a sector, our goal was to establish a business, find the right management, be profitable, then move to another sector and do the same thing. Our diversified model has allowed us to survive all the hiccups in the market. We concentrate on the companies we have in various sectors to make them leaders in their fields.
What are the most profitable investments for Bukhamseen Holding?
We are increasing our shares in several banks around the region. Additionally, consumer industries and industries based on day-to-day demand offer great opportunities: water, juice, and food industries, and on the manufacturing and production side, steel, because it is involved in construction and this region is full of new developments. Ultimately, we evaluate every business and investment carefully. We try to only invest in higher-yielding and fast-growing businesses. We avoid attachment to low-yielding investments in order to find more profitable ones, making sure that we are capable of handling rapid change.
How has Kuwait's economy developed over the years, and what role does it play in the region today?
Kuwait has historically been a center for trade. It is surrounded by big, oil-rich countries—Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Business was created in Kuwait based on merchant trade. After the war between Iraq and Iran and the invasion of Kuwait, families and businesses concentrated on investing in real estate and establishing industries. At the same time, following a phase of legal reform, the banking and insurance sector were supported and businesses and institutions grew stronger. Kuwait has always been very active in ensuring a stable region and is the first to donate toward any crisis. There was an immediate response when Kuwait was invaded. This is a humanitarian country with many charitable institutions, such as the Kuwait Foundation, which finances and builds infrastructure in the region through lending low-interest, long-term loans.
With this background in mind, how do you envision Kuwait's economic future?
The more the countries around us are stabilized, the better the chances for Kuwait to become a future trade center. Regardless of current oil prices, the government will continue backing the private sector, as well as supporting investment going forward. All sectors will do well if the government maintains what it is doing. This will encourage the private sector and oil sectors toward further investment.
What opportunities do you see for growth beyond Kuwait?
Bukhamseen is looking to Iraq—a country rich in people and resources. New laws for direct investment in Iraq are encouraging this. In 20 years' time, Iraq will be doing well; we see that in trade already. Considering recent events, Egypt is also doing well. Oman, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia are also key growth areas for us.
Over the past 50 years, Bukhamseen has seen steady expansion of its businesses. Looking to the next three to five years, what does the future of Bukhamseen Holding look like?
Bukhamseen is concentrating on two areas: policies and procedures. We are in the second generation now and entering the third, and we want to continue without any disturbances. We are also developing our product offering. At the same time, from the other side, we want to increase efficiency and make the business stronger and more competitive. We are trying to have fewer loans and decrease our liabilities. Decreasing debt and increasing profitability in all sectors is our main focus. In preparation for future challenges, we are building our resiliency. We are already diversified.