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Chapter | Construction & Real Estate from The Report: Kuwait 2017

With the country beginning to clear a backlog of major projects in energy, infrastructure and housing, the construction sector in Kuwait has seen a resurgence of activity in recent years. The government’s five-year National Development Plan committed to spend KD34bn ($112.5bn) over the 2015-20 period, and KD12bn ($39.7bn) worth of projects were signed off in the plan’s preliminary year. The country has seen its first successful construction project completed on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis, and according to National Bank of Kuwait, there is a further KD10bn ($33.1bn) in PPP projects in the pipeline for schemes ranging from power and water to education, health and transport. Real Estate meanwhile accounts for 6% of Kuwait’s non-oil GDP with the impressive scale of real estate activity apparent from satellite images showing a new city in the country’s south being reclaimed from the sea over the course of 15 years. Several new communities being built by the government to provide homes for more than 100,000 Kuwaiti married couples, will provide ample new opportunities to develop residential, retail and commercial property in the years ahead. This chapter contains interviews with Khaled Al Mashaan, Vice-Chairman and CEO, ALARGAN and Yasser Hassan Abul, Minister of State for Housing Affairs.

Chapter | Energy from The Report: Kuwait 2017

With about 6% of the world’s proven crude oil reserves Kuwait plays a major role in global energy markets. However, its reliance on a single commodity which is prone to significant fluctuations in value also presents challenges for the economy as a whole, and the energy sector in particular. According to estimates from the US Energy Information Administration, Kuwait’s total export revenues in 2015 were $40bn, compared to $119bn in 2012. Although the country has accumulated significant savings over the years, giving it fiscal buffers to weather lower oil prices in the short term, falling income has given greater impetus to long-term plans to boost production, increase upstream efficiency and diversify downstream industry, so that Kuwait can optimise the value of its natural resource endowment and pass on the benefits to its citizens. This chapter contains an interview with Jamal Jaafar, CEO, Kuwait Oil Company.

Chapter | Transport from The Report: Kuwait 2017

Driven by measured government-backed investments, and in spite of the downward pressure from oil prices, the Kuwait transportation sector continued to grow in 2016-17. Improving connectivity regionally and globally – via air, land and sea links – is viewed as a state priority and a promising mechanism to drive non-oil economic growth. In support of government objectives, such as enhancing local and regional integration, boosting trade volume and creating new job opportunities, several major infrastructure projects are under way in the country, including the expansion of Kuwait International Airport and the construction of the Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah Causeway. These fall under the KD34bn ($112.5bn) Kuwait Development Plan 2015-20 framework, which aims to push through major economic reforms, implement a pipeline of bold projects to empower the private sector, and establish Kuwait as a regional trade and financial centre by 2035. This chapter contains an interview with Sami Fahad Al Rushaid, Chairman, Kuwait Airways.

Chapter | Insurance from The Report: Kuwait 2017

The Kuwait insurance industry entered 2017 after a challenging period, which saw premium growth maintained but profitability declining year-on-year. High levels of competition and low oil prices make a reversal of this trend in the short term a daunting prospect. However, a number of developments in the pipeline – including a new legislative framework and the introduction of mandatory health coverage for expatriates – have the potential to provide a timely boost to Kuwait’s insurers. There is clearly scope for the expansion of insurance activity in the Kuwaiti market. The domestic industry plays a relatively small role in the economy, with banks and investment companies accounting for 94% of the financial system as of December 2015, according to the Central Bank of Kuwait. Insurance density in Kuwait, which stands at around 0.9% of GDP, is low even by regional standards.

Chapter | Islamic Financial Services from The Report: Kuwait 2017

Kuwait’s Islamic Financial Services industry is one of the fastest-growing segments of the financial sector, home to an increasing number of sharia- compliant banks and insurance companies. The emergence of these industries over recent decades has brought sharia-compliant capital to account for a significant proportion of total capital domiciled in Kuwait – around 45%, according to the World Bank, which is the second-highest rate in the GCC. Kuwait has also emerged as a player with weight in the global Islamic finance market. According to professional services firm EY, it is one of a core group of nine countries that account for 93% of industry assets, estimated to have exceeded $920bn in 2015. The World Bank reported that Kuwait’s share of global Islamic banking assets in 2016 was around 5.9% of the total, making it the fifth-largest sharia-compliant banking industry in the world that year. This chapter contains an interview with Mazin Al Nahedh, Group CEO, Kuwait Finance House.

Chapter | Capital Markets from The Report: Kuwait 2017

After a year characterised by low trading volumes and a horizontal main index, the Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) opened 2017 as the fastest-growing market in the world. A number of factors combine to make the KSE a destination of interest for investors in 2017, chief among them being new management, which has begun to implement an ambitious reform programme. With the ultimate goal of securing an upgrade for the nation’s bourse from frontier- to emerging-market status, regulatory reform is set to dominate the agenda over 2017 and 2018. This timely overhaul of the exchange’s rules and processes will tackle the KSE’s twin challenges of low liquidity and scant foreign interest head-on. This chapter contains an interview with Khaled Abdulrazzaq Al Khaled, Vice-Chairman and CEO, Boursa Kuwait.