There is a distinct air of frustration swilling around in Kuwait City. The oil-rich Gulf capital has long benefitted from a stream of black liquid cash that has kept its books in check for fourteen years, but it has little to show for it and with the gravy train expected to slow well before the end of the decade, those with any sense of forward thinking are begging the question: what will become of Kuwait?
“The reliance on oil is quite dangerous. I think we have completely failed in addressing this major imbalance,” chairman of Kuwait Banking Association (KBA) and Ahli United Bank, Hamad Al Marzouq said during a recent finance conference.
“We lack a clear strategic vision here in Kuwait.”
While its neighbours Qatar and the UAE have ploughed much of their oil wealth into investments as varied as ambitious real estate developments, landmark buildings in Europe, sports sponsorship and major new infrastructure projects such as solar power systems, Kuwait has been the sleepy cousin in a corner of the Arabian Peninsula.
“Kuwait is at a crossroads for conserving wealth [for] the future,” IMF deputy division chief of the Middle East and Central Asia Department, Ananthakrishnan Prasad says. “Our estimates shows that government expenditure will exhaust all oil revenues by 2017, which means no portion of these oil revenues would be available for future generations.
“There has to be a shift in policy in Kuwait and Kuwait will have to start saving more and have to start reducing their spending.”
It seems like the world is taking notice of Kuwait and it's problems, now will someone here listen before it's too late?