FOREWORD TO THE BUSINESS YEAR: KUWAIT 2016

Kuwait 2016 | DIPLOMACY | FOREWORD

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad  Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
BIOGRAPHY
Born in Kuwait on June 16th, 1929, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was educated in Kuwait’s schools, completing his studies with private tutors. Over the course of his career he has held positions including being Head of the Department of Press and Publications (1955) and Minister of Guidance and Information of the State of Kuwait (1962). In 1963, HH became the Foreign Minister of the State of Kuwait, a position he continued to hold throughout each Kuwaiti cabinet that was formed following Kuwait’s independence until April 20, 1991. In addition to his post as Foreign Minister, HH held the position of Acting Minister of Information (1971–75), and took on the role as Deputy Prime Minister in 1978. While maintaining his positions as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, HH became Minister of Information in 1982. In 1985, HH held the posts of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and became First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1992. HH is a Member of the Organizational Body of the Higher Council and Member of the Building and Construction Council. A widower and father to three sons and one daughter, his leisure interests include fishing.

Kuwait is a State of stability, vision, and sustainability. With increasing regional instability, Kuwait remains a secure and stable country, where its people enjoy freedom and compassion. While its neighbors have become embroiled in civil wars, sectarian and ethnic conflicts waged by armed groups and organizations that spread fear and terror, Kuwait continues to remain strong and resists these heinous people thanks to the hard work of our security authorities who have maintained the safety of Kuwaiti citizens. Our constitution is based on the founding principles of security, stability, and the rule of law. These are the rules upon which we all depend to maintain public life and continuing the services and facilities that make up all aspects of life. We must protect our national unity.

Regionally, as an integral part and founding member of the GCC, Kuwait sees any threat targeting one member state as a threat to all. We will reject any attack on the GCC and cooperate to defeat it. The GCC is a great example of what can be achieved through cooperation and dialog. Beyond defense and security issues, the GCC has helped its member states realize remarkable achievements on the regional and international level through the common values of kinship and brotherhood. Kuwait will continue to adhere to the founding principles of the GCC and to work hard to strengthen the bloc and its member states with dignity and pride.

Internationally, our support of the 17 sustainable development goals adopted by the UN in New York in September 2015, with their three economic, social, and environmental dimensions is evidence of Kuwait's commitment to supporting global development and the eradication of poverty. Still, the targeted sustainable development goals do face challenges, due to human behavioral patterns, the impact of natural disasters, and climate change, which only increases our responsibility to act. In order to implement our aspirations, we must work effectively through teamwork and global partnerships in accordance with the principle of shared responsibility, while taking into account the differing burdens faced by our partners beyond the development goals of 2015 and in their efforts to eradicate poverty by 2030. In this regard, Kuwait maintains and emphasizes the need for countries to fulfill their commitment to allocate 0.7% of GNP to securing access of developing countries to sustainable funding. Kuwait is keen to assume its regional and international role in this regard and take up its responsibilities toward achieving the development goals set out by the UN, while working to strengthen and address these issues in a positive and more effective manner.

It is a source of pride for all Kuwaitis that even as a developing country itself, it is Kuwait that assumed the top position in the provision of humanitarian assistance in 2014 according to the Global Humanitarian Aid report issued by the Development Initiative Organization. Total aid donated by Kuwait in 2014 accounted for 0.24% of our GDP, the highest among any of the donor countries globally. We are set to continue on this path and are keen to maintain our role as a humanitarian leader. Kuwait will spare no effort when it comes to helping and providing assistance to developing countries, as well as those that have been afflicted and ravaged by war and terrorism. One of the main vehicles for achieving this goal is the Kuwait Fund for Development, which provides loans and grants to establish infrastructure projects for these countries. We are proud to say that over the past few years, Kuwait has continued in its efforts to provide developmental assistance, which has amounted to 2.1% of GDP, more than double the agreed international rate.

In order to maintain Kuwait's good fortune, stability, and economic security, there are certain factors that have to be addressed locally. Primarily, the country's reliance on oil and oil revenues is something that we must reverse to ensure the long-term sustainability of Kuwait and its citizens. In relation to this, the consumption pattern of our society is something we have warned of in the past and still believe needs to be examined. Continued increases in government spending with no added revenues will only have a negative effect on the country's real value, and its citizens, who are the main pillar of stability, progress, and development. Oil prices have made headlines globally in 2015, and have led to a dramatic decline in state revenues; however, public spending has continued at the same rate without any decline, which in turn has created a state budget deficit. This is a burden and could potentially limit development and our ambitions if it were to continue without any action. Hence, urgent economic reform to reduce public expenditure while at the same time not harming the quality of services is necessary. The need to address economic imbalances is immediate to ensure the deficit remains in control and also allows for the creation of a sustainable Kuwait for generations to come. Still, this will require a great effort on the part of the private and public sector as well as higher costs. However, the benefits from a diversified economy will be reaped by all. The government will rule by example and embody the discipline and commitment to the reforms necessary and set forth programs that will take advantage of the opportunity to correct the economic course of Kuwait through seeking alternative sources of income that reinforce the capability and potential of this great State. In doing this, we hope every citizen will realize the importance of these reforms. Through responsible management, we hope everyone will work toward meeting the requirements for success, while emphasizing the constant desire not to affect the living standards of any of the citizens of Kuwait, the needy, or our future generations.

The goal of sustainable development and a diversified economy require us to act with innovative methods. To ensure the long-term development of Kuwait, we must work in partnership on both a regional and international level. The commitment of Kuwait's government to economic reform and diversification will help protect living standards of citizens for generations to come. Still, we will not lose sight of our global role and responsibility to help, support, and aid developing countries, which will ensure the economic growth of Kuwait's neighbors, and in turn, Kuwait.