Kuwait is one of the original gateways to the Arab World, due to its strategic location in the Gulf and openness to conducting business with the rest of the world. In the past, this nation of pearl divers and fishermen established a reputation for international trade and, since the discovery of oil, Kuwait has upheld this status, developing the destination into a major multifaceted business hub.
Like many fellow Gulf States, the country has a well-defined vision to invest its oil wealth wisely, drawing on global expertise and knowledge to diversify its economy and build modern, world-class infrastructure that will safeguard future prosperity. With the world’s sixth largest proven reserves, petroleum still dominates the economy with around 55 to 60 percent of GDP and almost 95 percent of exports.
This has stood Kuwait in good stead during challenging times, including the two Gulf wars and, more recently, the global recession, with oil and gas revenues delivering strong public finances, which have been ploughed into domestic and overseas assets. This has allowed Kuwait to produce some of the world’s most successful firms, including telecommunications giant Zain and one of the first low-cost carriers, Jazeera Airways. By default, this has generated a boost in business travel to Kuwait, consequently generating a rise in meetings and events. This MICE business is not limited to the oil and gas sector, but key growth industries ranging from construction and real estate to banking and finance.
In addition, despite a recent softening of oil prices and, therefore, oil revenues – an unusual state of affairs given that escalating Middle East tensions normally drive barrel prices up – Kuwait’s close proximity to the war-ravaged nations of Syria and Iraq make the country a relative safe-haven for business, construction and investment in troubled times.