WINDS OF CHANGE

Kuwait 2019 | INDUSTRY & FOOD | INTERVIEW

KSE has one of the most vital roles to play in helping Kuwait realize its sustainable development and Vision 2035 goals.

Faisal D. Alatel
BIOGRAPHY
Faisal D. Alatel is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of KSE. Established in November 1962, KSE is the first non-profit organization in Kuwait. With more than 42,000 members and over 400 professional volunteers, the society is the most influential organization in the region and has led the Arab Engineering Federation for three terms and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations. Alatel is also a faculty member of the Public Authority of Applied Education and Training in Kuwait. He has a master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Sunderland in the UK.

How is KSE managing to conduct positive changes within the country?

A large number of government ministers and employees are members of KSE, making us one of the most influential organizations in the country. Notably, KSE led the World Engineering Federation for two years, and the Arab Engineering Federation for three terms. We also led the GCC Engineering Federation for about 10 years. Around 400 volunteers, including professors, ex-ministers, and fresh graduates, are part of KSE. We work alongside young engineers and help establish codes and regulations for buildings and construction. Our sponsors and members play a vital role since they account for a high percentage of funds that finance our initiatives. In addition, the government provides us with KWD12,000 annually. We also have several sponsors who believe in what we do. Due to our large membership, we are well connected in many places. With our members' invaluable contribution, we implemented a green mosque initiative and thus far have turned five mosques into smart mosques. The government seeks to expand this model to other mosques since it saved as much as 60% in energy usage. The government is also looking to transform Kuwait City into a smart city, which will save more than KWD1 billion.

What initiatives do you have with universities in Kuwait?

We have a Young Engineering Committee that seeks out future leaders. We have a partnership with Kuwait University where we work on initiatives with professors. We also have a committee that provides students with volunteering opportunities and training. We offer a six-week course that prepares them for jobs in the private sector. We try to widen the knowledge of our engineers with courses, workshops, and conferences. We have an upcoming conference on the challenges of infrastructure, and that is bringing in speakers from all around the world. We have had initiatives regarding the oil sector and smart cities, to name a few. We have a cultural attaché that helps our exchange students with immigration and coping with the foreign lifestyle.

How do standards in Kuwait align with those elsewhere, and how does the government ensure a standard for engineers?

There is no regulator for engineering in Kuwait. In the UK and the US, there is an engineering council that acts as the regulator. People can just go online and get an engineering degree, but one needs to work in the lab to truly understand the field. We work with American and European boards of engineers. In the US, before you work as an engineer, you need to take an exam, but we do not have this in Kuwait or anywhere in the region. Fortunately, the government is becoming more convinced about the importance of all of this. In 2019 we received 33,000 applicants, but only approved 25,000.

What are some of the challenges in Kuwait?

Compared to other infrastructures around the world, Kuwait is still behind. We are trying to come up with 10 or 20 points we can present to the government. 2035 is a big plan, and it will require us to increase the land use of the entire country from 6% to 8%.

What are your expectations for 2019?

In 2019, we will have two major conferences. Our main goal is to promote electric cars and build charging stations. We want to give the government a 15-year plan for the role of engineers in the country. We have several engineers coming to the country to educate us on state-of-the-art energy harnessing projects. We are also working on a law with the government to better regulate the field.