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Sector-specific opportunities

Overview

Kuwait continues to tread a delicate path between providing generous public services for its 1.5 million Kuwaiti citizens, while encouraging the development of the private sector. Under the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA), FDI is being encouraged by breaking down bureaucracy and promoting generous incentives – see: https://kdipa.gov.kw/en/. The new US $7 billion SME Fund to develop new Kuwaiti companies providing the spine of a private sector economy are steps in the right direction.  

Large Kuwaiti-based multinationals like the 40,000 strong MH Alshaya Co. prove that Kuwait can be a home for competitive global business. The work of the Kuwaiti Government to implement a number of high profile privatisations, including national flag carrier Kuwait Airways, and implement more business friendly policies, all in a business culture that is predisposed to working with and travelling to the UK, mean Kuwait could be your next export market.

[Source – DIT]

Research

You should carry out as much market research and planning as possible before exporting to Kuwait, using both desk research and visits to the market. You need to determine if there is a market for your product or service and whether your pricing is competitive.

Further sector-specific detail on Kuwait’s sectors can be found at the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA), which has produced: “Investing in Kuwait: A Guide for Investment Opportunities in Kuwait 2016” in co-operation with KPMG Advisory W.L.L. Kuwait. See: https://kdipa.gov.kw/en/investments-2/.

DIT’s trade specialists can help you identify local representatives for your products in Kuwait. See: https://www.gov.uk/overseas-customers-export-opportunities.

DIT provides free international export sales leads from its worldwide network. Find export opportunities in Kuwait at: https://opportunities.export.great.gov.uk/.

[Source – DIT/gov.uk]

 

Advertising and media

Kuwait has a diverse population, reflecting a wide range of cultures and ethnic backgrounds, which generates demand for diversified advertising, marketing, entertainment and media.

Kuwait has demonstrated a high affinity for entertainment and media especially considering the majority of its population is young and affluent. Kuwait’s high penetration of broadband, mobile phone and television also indicate the magnitude of the potential opportunities in the space of media and marketing, especially in the digital segment.

Kuwait has the fourth-highest advertising expenditure in the MENA region. The digital marketing industry is, however, at a nascent stage in Kuwait, with players offering multiple services such as marketing, advertising, analytics, technology, etc.

Growing traffic on social networking sites and increased time spent online by the resident population is fuelling the growth in digital advertising, which currently accounts for only 5% of the total advertising spend.

The sector comprises global, regional and local boutique players but is largely dominated by international firms primarily operating through local tie-ups and catering to in-house digital marketing requirements, indicating room for the presence of specialised international players in Kuwait.

Contact the British Embassy Kuwait at: https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-embassy-kuwait for further information and opportunities in the advertising/media sector. 

[Source – KDIPA]

 

Banking, financial services and insurance

Kuwait has a well-developed banking and financial services sector, which accounted for over 5.6% of total GDP in 2014. The local financial services sector consists of 23 local, regional and international banks, 81 local investment and finance companies, 113 local investment funds and over 23 local, regional and international insurance companies.

The CBK oversees banking and financing activities and the CMA regulates securities market activities. The insurance industry is governed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The banking environment has witnessed tighter regulations governing stakeholder interests. The growing insurance industry is also expected to benefit from the favourable policies of mandatory medical insurance for expatriates and nationals along with rising affordability.

The Kuwaiti Government’s planned infrastructure development projects are likely to further support development of the banking and financial services sector.

Contact the British Embassy Kuwait at: https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-embassy-kuwait for further information and opportunities in the banking, financial services and insurance sector.

[Source – KDIPA]

 

Defence and security

Kuwait has some significant opportunities in the defence and security sectors over the medium to long term. Healthcare, oil, infrastructure and transport projects will also all have security elements.

Contact the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/export-control-organisation to check your goods you are meeting legal requirements for export.

Contact the DIT Defence & Security Organisation (DSO) at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-international-trade-defence-and-security-organisation or the First Secretary, Defence and Security: robert.bricker@fco.gsi.gov.uk in Kuwait to understand more about these opportunities.

[Source – DIT/gov.uk]

 

Education

  • Education is free of charge for citizens in government schools.

  • For expatriates, there are a variety of private educational systems available, such as American, English, French, Indian, Pakistani and Filipino schools.

  • According to the school educational statistics published in 2016, the total number of schools in Kuwait reached 1,450. This includes government, private, special needs, religious education, adult education, and illiteracy programme schools. See: http://ajialq8.com/?p=37521 (site not in English).

  • The total number of students enrolled in schools reached 647,238 with 81,404 teachers and faculty members.

Contact the British Embassy Kuwait at: DITKuwait@fco.gov.uk for further information and opportunities in the education sector.

[Source – DIT]

 

Healthcare

Healthcare in Kuwait represents a significant opportunity for UK companies.

A programme has been underway to increase the number of hospital beds, designed to cope with the health needs of a growing, ageing and wealthy national population as well as a growing expatriate population. Healthcare is free for Kuwaitis.

  • Kuwait provides comprehensive, modern, and free health service to its citizens through an extensive number of infirmaries, specialised clinics, and hospitals. The latter include: Sabah Hospital, Amiri Hospital, Adan Hospital, Farwaniya Hospital, Mubarak Al-Kabeer Hospital and Jahra Hospital.

  • There are over 94 primary healthcare centres across the country. The number is expected to rise to 125 centres by 2020.

  • There is a host of private clinics and medical centres in various specialisations catering to the expatriates in Kuwait, as well as private hospitals such as: Muwasat Hospital, Al Hadi Hospital, Dar Al Shifaa Hospital, Assalam Hospital, and Al Seif Hospital.

  • As part of the development plan, Health Assurance Hospitals Company (Dhaman) was launched to offer healthcare services for expatriates in Kuwait. This company was established as a PPP project aiming to enhance the role of private investment in developing the healthcare sector in Kuwait.

There are opportunities for UK companies to supply:

  • medical equipment

  • information technology (IT)

  • training

  • maintenance

  • facilities management

  • hospital management

Contact Senior Trade Adviser: gula.al-sharafi@fco.gov.uk for more information on healthcare opportunities.

[Source – DIT/gov.uk]

 

Infrastructure and real estate

The 2010 National Development Plan (NDP) set out a raft of infrastructure projects aimed at providing the building blocks for Kuwait to attempt to become a financial and trade hub for the region by 2035 and encouraging economic diversification.  

Composed of five, five-year plans aimed at generating improved GDP growth and catalysing private sector investment, the first US $108 billion five-year plan includes a US $3.3 billion airport terminal, designed by the UK's Foster and Partners and a US $7 billion Metro aimed at relieving traffic congestion.  

The Kuwait Authority for Partnership Projects (KAPP) is overseeing Kuwait's PPP programme where the Al Zour North IWPP award for a US $1.8 billion combined power and water plant shows the beginnings of a positive trend. Under the Public Authority for Housing Welfare, Kuwait plans to develop three new "Cities" to meet its rising housing demand of over 100,000 Kuwaiti citizens on the housing waiting list. 

 

Telecommunications

Kuwait has several telecommunications providers, Zain Kuwait, VIVA, and Ooredoo, along with a number of internet providers Fastelco, Zajil, and Mada.

Kuwait has one of the highest mobile phone penetrations in the world at 220% and is on the rise. Moreover, the country’s internet penetration rate reached 82.08% in 2015, positively affected by its smart phone savvy youth, who makes up 60% of the total population (age groups 5-34 years), and with high purchasing power.

 

Public transport

Public bus services are provided throughout the country by Kuwait Public Transport Company, established in 1962, along with City Bus, and KGL. Taxi services are also widely available and are provided by different companies and owners including roaming taxies.

Kuwait paved more than 6,609 km of highway roads and related road networks and plans to reach 7,179 km by the end of 2020 with the aims to continuously improve infrastructure in line with the country’s needs. Furthermore, Kuwait has an advanced sewerage system that prevents rain floods.

 

Port development

The country has two dry cargo shipping ports at Shuwaikh and Shuaiba, and several terminals to export oil at Al Ahmadi Port, Al Shuaiba Port and Abdullah Port. In addition to that, the new mega Mubarak Al Kabir Port and logistics facility will be completed in the north of the country, which is being developed over the next 20 years at Bubiyan Island in the northwest of Kuwait.

This will be financed by the Government of Kuwait in conjunction with the private sector. The facility will be linked to the GCC railway enabling the port to serve as a major deep-sea staging area for regional shipping and transportation. The wider aspects of the development will include:

  • housing

  • a free trade zone

  • industrial area

The port is currently under construction. Opportunities for UK companies include consultancy, design and planning for the next phase.

 

Housing and real estate

The shortage of housing and long waiting times for land allocation has resulted in housing being a government priority. There are plans to build three new cities by 2020.

In 2016 a US $950 million contract for an infrastructure works package was signed for construction of South Mutlaa City, which will include 30,000 residential units when completed, followed by a US $2.4 billion project to build Hessah Al Mubarak. In 2017 a further contract was signed to build South Saad Al Abdullah New City, a smart city, with construction due to commence in 2019.

The waiting list for government-subsidised housing has grown to over 100,000. More than 170,000 homes will be needed by 2020.

There are a total of 11 planned projects to build over 175,000 new houses. These projects will all need supporting transport and service infrastructure.

There will be significant new opportunities for UK companies in:

  • project management

  • design

  • construction

  • the supply chain

Contact the Senior Trade Adviser at: DITKuwait@fco.gov.uk for more information on Bubiyan Island/port and cities/housing opportunities.

[Source – DIT/gov.uk]

 

Oil and gas

Underpinning Kuwait's prosperity, oil and gas accounts for 65% of GDP and 95% of exports. With plans to raise production to four million barrels per day by 2020, Kuwait is pushing ahead with the world's largest oil refinery (worth around US $14.5 billion) at Al Zour, where PMC and EPC contracts have been awarded.

The Clean Fuels Project, (CFP) developing upgrades to the Mina Abdullah and Mina Ahmadi refineries has awarded US $12 billion worth of EPC contracts to three international consortia including the UK's Petrofac, showing that long-awaited progress is being made.  

Finally Kuwait has brought back "Big Oil" to boost crude production, including at the Burgan field (the world's second largest) in enhanced technical service contracts awarded to companies including BP and Shell.

Contact the British Embassy Kuwait at: alan.menezes@fco.gov.uk for further information and opportunities in the oil and gas sector.

[Source – DIT]

 

Transport

Infrastructure development at Kuwait International Airport (KIA) is a US $6 billion project. It aims to expand capacity to handle 20 million passengers per year and become a major passenger and cargo hub for the region. The new passenger terminal was designed by a team led by the UK’s Foster and Partners.

An estimated US $3 billion will be spent on:

  • reconstruction and extension of the existing runways

  • construction of primary and secondary access roads and taxiways, aircraft stands

  • enhancing control tower facilities

  • building new cargo facilities

  • upgrading other airport infrastructure

Kuwait’s Metro system will expand to 160 km and 69 stations over five phases.

There are opportunities for UK companies throughout the supply chain for these transport projects.

Contact the Senior Trade Adviser at: DITKuwait@fco.gov.uk for more information on transport opportunities.

[Source – DIT/gov.uk]


 

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