9Country ProfileStrategically located at the head of the GulfPopulation numbers about 3.5m peopleEducation and development...
COUNTRY PROFILE                                                   11                                                      ...
12                                    COUNTRY PROFILE                                                                     ...
Oxford Business Group - Kuwait 2012 Report
Oxford Business Group - Kuwait 2012 Report
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Oxford Business Group - Kuwait 2012 Report

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Oxford Business Group - Kuwait 2012 Report

  1. 1. 9Country ProfileStrategically located at the head of the GulfPopulation numbers about 3.5m peopleEducation and development remain prioritiesBoubyan Island set to receive a new port facility
  2. 2. COUNTRY PROFILE 11 The population numbers about 3.5m, with 25% Kuwaiti nationalsStrong and steadyEducation and development remain prioritiesSince gaining independence in 1961, Kuwait has been creating internationally-recognised boundaries in theof the most economically productive and politically decades following the First World War, and in 1938liberal nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) oil was first discovered. After declaring independenceand the wider Arab world. With strong public finances, from the British in 1961, the nation accelerated oila young and well-educated population, and vast oil production and signed new border agreements withdeposits, the country also has a bright future in the Iraq and Saudi Arabia. However, recurring border dis-global economy, where it looks set to play a more putes with Iraq culminated in that country’s invasionassertive and influential role. Yet, despite past and of Kuwait in 1990, followed by a UN-mandated inter-ongoing success, Kuwait has entered a challenging vention, led by the US. Kuwait was liberated in 1991period in its history, one that will have a profound after a seven-month Iraqi occupation, but fleeing Iraqiimpact on the country’s long-term growth prospects. forces set fire to 749 oil wells, which caused huge finan-DEVELOPMENT: In 2010, the government initiated cial losses for the state as well as widespread envi-a five-year KD31bn ($111.76bn) development plan fea- ronmental devastation.turing ambitious capital projects designed to pro- Kuwait has largely recovered from the Iraqi invasion,mote economic diversification, upgrade the country’s and has regained its status as one of the world’sinfrastructure and boost oil production capacity. largest oil exporters. Many are looking towards a newAlthough the plan’s approval in the National Assem- era, characterised by improved relations betweenbly was an historic achievement, many are concerned Kuwait and the Iraqi government.that recurring political disputes between ministers Kuwait maintains excellent diplomatic and econom-and parliamentarians will delay its implementation. Fur- ic relations with the international community. Tiesther, Kuwait’s continued progress depends on the with the US are particularly strong, as reflected bystate’s ability to shift more economic activity to the Kuwait’s public support for the US-led invasion of Iraqprivate sector, which currently accounts for only 37% in 2003. While the US has begun reducing its pres-of GDP. By passing new legislation regarding privati- ence in the region, Kuwait continues to serve as ansation, capital markets and labour laws, and by encour- important logistics base for American military andaging public-private partnerships, officials plan to civilian reconstruction operations.increase the private sector’s share of GDP to 44% by POPULATION: Kuwait’s population is roughly 3.5m,the time that the development plan ends in 2014. about one quarter of which are Kuwaiti nationals. Tra-HISTORY: Modern-day Kuwait was established dur- ditionally Kuwaitis have favoured working in the pub-ing the 17th century by the Bani Khalid tribe in Ara- lic sector, but they are now joining the private labourbia. In the mid-1800s, the Al Sabah dynasty came to force in rising numbers, a trend the authorities wantpower, a ruling family that still governs the country to encourage going forward. In 2010, some 20% oftoday under a hereditary constitutional monarchy. Kuwaiti nationals were privately employed, up from As the area came under pressure from the Ottoman 16% in 2007. Numbering about 2.4m, the nation’sEmpire during the 19th century, Kuwait sought pro- expatriate community is predominantly comprised oftection from the West, and became a protectorate of workers from the Indian subcontinent, the Middlethe British Empire. Throughout the 19th century, East, and South-east Asia. Given the anticipated rateKuwait benefitted from its strategic location along of construction over the next several years, it is expect-trade routes, and became a major centre for the ed that in the medium term these numbers mayexchange of spices and pearls. The government began increase further. In the long term though it is hoped THE REPORT Kuwait 2012
  3. 3. 12 COUNTRY PROFILE generous subsidies for nationals attending private and international schools, which are monitored by the Private Education Department at the MoE. Private schools have expanded rapidly in recent years, with Kuwaiti families increasingly opting to send their chil- dren to academies that offer Western-style curricu- la taught in English. Private schools also cater to the country’s large expatriate population. Post-secondary schooling is overseen by the Min- istry of Higher Education, which regulates university accreditation and staff qualification. Established in 1966, Kuwait University is the country’s first and only public higher education institution. There are also a number of private tertiary schools, including the Gulf Institute of Science and Technology, the American University of Kuwait, the Arab Open University and the Australian College of Kuwait. Overall, around 75% of the eligible population is currently using higher edu- cation facilities in one form or another. GEOGRAPHY & CLIMATE: Kuwait is strategicallyPublic education is completely free for nationals, with the government also covering most related costs located at the head of the Gulf in the north-east cor- continued infrastructure development will stimulate ner of the Arabian peninsula. It shares land borders private consumption and the real estate market. with Saudi Arabia to the south and Iraq in the north, RELIGION & CULTURE: According to the Kuwaiti and a sea border to the east with Iran. At 17,818 sq constitution, Islam is the official state religion, and km, it is one of the world’s smallest countries, though sharia law is one of the key sources of legislation. it has 500 km of coastline, and its sovereign territo- Compared to other Gulf nations, such as the UAE, ry includes nine Gulf islands. The island of Failaka, at Bahrain or Qatar, Kuwait adheres to a fairly conser- the mouth of Kuwait Bay, is densely populated and con- vative interpretation of Islam. However, Islamic prac- tains an ancient Greek temple built by the army of tices in Kuwait are considered more liberal than those Alexander the Great. Boubyan Island, meanwhile, has in Saudi Arabia, where Wahabism is dominant. Though been slated for significant development, with nearly most of Kuwait’s Muslims are Sunni, including the rul- $4bn allocated for a new port facility. ing family, there is a substantial Shia minority that Kuwait is primarily flat desert plain, and only 20% represents between 15% and 30% of the total popu- of the nation’s land area is currently inhabited. The lation. Kuwait also has sizeable Christian, Hindu and country has no access to natural water reservoirs, Buddhist communities, which have been granted free- and has one of the lowest per capita fresh water sup- dom of worship under the constitution. plies in the world, with roughly 90% of its water LANGUAGE: The official language in Kuwait is Ara- resources derived from seawater desalination. bic, which is used in all government announcements The country has an arid climate, with hot and dry and documentation. It is recommended correspon- summers lasting from April to September, when tem- dence with government offices be conducted in Mod- peratures can climb past 50° Celsius. Winter weath- ern Standard Arabic, as English speakers are not always er typically begins in November, when temperatures available. Nevertheless, English is widely used and range from 15-20° Celsius, but can drop in the evening, understood, especially in academia and the business sometimes to as far as 0° Celsius. Rainfall only aver- community. English is also included in the national cur- ages 110 mm per year, occurring intermittently in the riculum, and it is quite common for Kuwaitis to study winter and spring seasons. abroad at universities located in the US or UK. The NATURAL RESOURCES: Kuwait has an abundant Kuwait Times and the Arab Times are the country’s two supply of hydrocarbons, as it contains nearly 10% of main English-language newspapers. the world’s oil reserves. In the 2010/11 fiscal year, oil EDUCATION: Overseen by the Ministry of Education revenues grew 17% to KD19.4bn ($69.9bn), account- (MoE), public schooling is compulsory for all children ing for 93% of total revenue. Each day, the country’s aged 6-14. After kindergarten, the general education major refineries produce over 3m barrels of oil, with system is divided into three tiers – elementary, inter- plans in place to boost production capacity to 3.5m mediate and secondary – each of which entails four barrels per day by 2015, and 4m by 2020. years of study. Although public schools are segregat- Outside of the oil and gas section, the country has ed by sex, women are granted the same rights to edu- sufficient seafood to support an active fishing indus- cation as men, and account for just under half of try. Overall, around 50% of seafood comes from local enrolment in domestic universities. Public education fisheries, though concerns exist regarding overfish- is completely free for nationals, with the government ing and seafood depletion. Generally, the nation’s paying for transportation, meals, books and medical overall food requirements are served by imports from attention for students. The government also provides a variety of foreign markets, instead of domestically. www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com/country/Kuwait

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