The 4th Euromoney Kuwait Conference, Kuwait and the Global Economy: Strategies for Uncertain Times brought together over 300 financiers, policymakers, business leaders and investors to discuss Kuwait’s position in the light of a changing global economic landscape and to draw global parallels to events in Kuwait and its international partners in very uncertain times.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, H.E. Dr. Mustafa Jassem Al-Shimali, delivered the opening keynote address, pointing out that the GCC countries did weather the economic crisis in 2008 and now the Eurozone debt crisis. However he recognized that the healthy 7.2% economic growth in the GCC (up from 5.8% in 2010) was due to an oil price rise of about 31%, and an increase in oil exports in 2011.
Sheikh Meshaal Jaber Al-Sabah, Chief of the Kuwait Foreign Investment Bureau, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, followed on from the Deputy Prime Minister by echoing some of his concerns and recognising the current sovereign debt crisis as a major challenge.
The conference continued with a series of high profile interviews discussing: the role and strategy of KFIB with Sheikh Meshaal Jaber Al-Sabah; the changes in the Islamic financial system and the main aspects of the new Islamic financial landscape with Mohammed Al Omar; the obstacles of the banking and financial sector in the State of Kuwait and how can the sector overcome them with Majed Al Ajeel; and the role and importance of the emerging market financial institutions as they continue to regionalise and internationalise with Michel Accad.
Panels followed focusing on: the project finance options in Kuwait; the impact of a prolonged western economic stagnation on the price of oil; the future of finance in both Kuwait and the world; the risk/return profile of Kuwaiti banks and other financial institutions; investment strategy in a low/no return environment; investment in Kuwait; and opportunities and challenges for foreign and local investors.
Overall, there were mixed feelings about the outlook for Kuwait. Some of the issues raised were: improving relationships with its neighbours; the importance of having a clear, distinct message to attract foreign capital; the need for improved regulation; less government involvement and red tape; more communication and visibility; and the urgent need to boost the private sector and job creation.
Despite the wealth of the country and the reserves prudently managed within the KIA and elsewhere, the country is not immune to events in the outside world. And nor does it have infinite time to make the positive changes necessary to become a competitive investment destination (Richard Banks).
The solution? To pretend not having any oil reserves for a while!
Thank you to all our sponsors, speakers and delegates who made this event possible. We look forward to being back in 2013!
If you wish to contact someone regarding speaking or sponsoring opportunities in 2013 please contact Mohamed Kharboush on email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0) 20 7779 8149.
The discussions featuring many key economic and political decision makers at the Euromoney conference in Kuwait gave us significant insights and a mix of points of view about the approach many investors are presently taking in the region and the reasons behind that. It has also, without doubt, enriched the audience with analysis of current trends in the global market and its future developments. It is an interesting discussion that continuously broadens the knowledge of many attendees year after year.
Dr. Mahmoud Abul Eyoun, Chief Executive Officer, Kuwait International Bank
H.E. Dr. Mustafa Jassem Al-Shimali
H.E. Sheikh Salem AbdulAziz Al-Sabah