Kuwait’s big economic opportunity

02 March 2010

If the current spirit of co-operation between the government and the parliament is sustained, it will be good news for all involved

Kuwait has a long-term development  plan under implementation for the first time in more than 20 years. More importantly, it has both a government and a National Assembly (parliament) prepared to see the programme through.

MEED has long argued the legislative and executive arms of government hold responsibility for the emirate’s development in equal measure. In recent years, both sides have shirked that responsibility. Members of parliament have done their best to derail the government’s agenda. Equally, the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohamed al-Ahmed al-Sabah allowed them do so.

“The executive and legislative will have to sustain their relationship to see the country succeed”

Sheikh Nasser’s decision to stand up to a parliamentary ‘grilling’ and to submit himself to a confidence vote in December 2009 may well be seen as a watershed moment in both Kuwaiti and regional politics in the future.

The passage in early February of a five-year, $25bn-a-year development programme to 2014 in the National Assembly by a majority vote of 53 to three showed that members of parliament are now prepared to work on sensible legislation in co-operation with Sheikh Nasser.

Work has already started on the development of a second phase of planning. It is a good moment for the country, for the ruling Al-Sabah family, for the oil-rich state’s 2 million nationals, and for democracy in the Gulf.

The opening pages of the 2010-2014 programme contain the outlines of a wider plan for the county, the Kuwait Vision 2035, which sees the emirate as a business and finance hub.

If Kuwait is to prosper in the intervening decades, its democracy will have to evolve. The executive and legislative will have to sustain their relationship through open dialogue and genuine desire to see the country succeed. It will be hard work, but ultimately it will be worth it.

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