IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD

Kuwait 2019 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

For those paying any attention to long-term trends, it is clear that only a complete revamp of the country's pedagogical culture will put Kuwait on the right development path.

Abdullah Alnabhan
BIOGRAPHY
Abdullah Alnabhan is the Middle East Regional Director/Partner for Palladium Group, CEO of Kuwait operations, and UAE Country Director for Palladium. He has over 15 years of implementing strategic planning and excellence across the world, overseeing all of Palladium’s operations in the Middle East. He has also been involved in projects in strategy planning and execution in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar, Canada, the US, and the UK. He is also a researcher and active writer who publishes frequently on space strategy and performance management.

What areas should be targeted to make public entities more cost efficient?

Kuwait has had a history of solid economic growth; however, its development aspirations are hampered by various competitive factors within an oil-based economy. To tackle these, Kuwait has embarked on a transformational journey under the umbrella of New Kuwait 2035 Vision, which provides an overall direction for the diversification of the country's economy. Palladium is well positioned to partner with the Kuwaiti government and support the achievement of necessary transformational outcomes and facilitate change across key target areas, such as government restructuring through the streamlining of some of its functions and by revisiting existing policies, mandates, and ecosystem dynamics for enhanced impact. The company can also share its expertise in the rationalization of services and use of new technologies that help streamline government operations and expenses. We can also help the government find ways to increase job creation via the private sector. While current unemployment is not alarming, there is a skills-to-employment gap. To absorb job seekers, the government has historically expanded the public sector. But to meet the New Kuwait 2035 Vision targets of economic diversification, a competitive workforce needs to be developed with the participation of the private sector. We can also monitor and manage performance. The overall execution of vision initiatives must be successful if Kuwaiti is to realise its development aspirations. Consequently, government agencies must have a clear strategic management framework that integrates the new processes. This will ensure agile decision making based on performance and results.

How can Palladium help mitigate the aforementioned skills-to-employment challenges?

According to WEF's Global Human Capital Report, the quality of primary schools, general skillset of graduates, and English-language proficiency in Kuwait rank among the lowest in the GCC. This creates challenges in finding and recruiting talent capable of driving business and the much-needed government transformation. Addressing the existing skills-to-employment gap thus requires a phased redevelopment approach whereby the private sector participates across the education value chain and innovative learning tools are encouraged to drive development. The government continues to facilitate the necessary regulatory reforms in education aimed at responding to the rapidly shifting requirements associated with the diversification of Kuwait's economy. Palladium is well-equipped to catalyze such a redevelopment approach by driving a needs-based conceptualisation of the “student of the future of Kuwait," whose skills are fully aligned with the New Kuwait 2035 Vision. This can be achieved by implementing a series of initiatives to redefine the way in which education is carried out. For example, redefining the curriculum to be student-centric and experiential, in which collaboration and problem-solving skills are built through project-based learning methods; readdressing the role of teachers, first within the education system, by positioning them as facilitators and enablers of knowledge that students rely on to help them engage with information, and then within the society, by enhancing their status through stricter qualification requirements, and training; and enabling the use of data and technology in learning as a complement to human judgement and personal experience.

How can you help build a dynamic tourist ecosystem in Kuwait?

Compared to other countries in the Gulf, the contribution of Kuwait's tourism sector to the economy is the lowest as measured by GDP and employment. However, per capita, Kuwait has the biggest internal domestic demand and the largest expenditure on foreign travel and tourism across the GCC. In this context, realizing opportunities generated by the existing supply and demand gap requires a stronger and more efficient tourism ecosystem that is effectively integrated into the national agenda. Palladium can help by locating market-centric, organisational, and cultural elements and mobilizing significant investment in a series of ambitious projects to accelerate its development.