A CLARION CALL

Kuwait 2017 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Sheikh Dr. Meshaal Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah, Director General of the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA), on launching an investment promotion conference, attracting the right partners for PPP, and expectations for the year ahead.

Sheikh Dr. Meshaal Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah
BIOGRAPHY
Sheikh Dr. Meshaal Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah took on his 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 milestones characterized the past year for you?

A key milestone was organizing the Kuwait Investment Forum (KIF), the first investment promotion conference, under the patronage of HH the Amir of Kuwait and with the personal inauguration of the Prime Minister in 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

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 dialog to identify reform priorities that will contribute to improving the business climate in Kuwait. Furthermore, KDIPA, in accordance 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 face of rising global commitments and challenges.