Kuwait PM raises questions for region



When the prime minister of Kuwait warns Kuwaitis that the current welfare state is “unsustainable”, his words echo across the Arabian Peninsula. Speaking at the start of the week, Sheikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah said: “Everyone must understand that the existing welfare state that Kuwaitis are used to cannot continue. It’s necessary that Kuwaiti society shifts from a consumer of the nation’s resources to a productive people.”

Those words come after the International Monetary Fund warned last year that spending levels in the country would outpace revenues from oil by 2017. This in the country that is estimated to have the second largest oil reserves in the GCC and just over a million citizens.

As in Kuwait, so in the rest of the GCC. Every GCC country uses the cushion of energy reserves to provide a range of benefits for citizens. Even those countries, such as Oman, where oil production is modest compared to, say, Saudi Arabia, offer some subsidies.

Subsidies across the GCC are a real problem, and one that the leadership is well-aware of. But reducing them is only part of the solution: another is diversifying the economy, to provide additional revenue streams other than oil and gas.

The UAE has moved rapidly towards diversification, spending billions to develop strategic sectors such as tourism, aviation and the financial sector. Hydrocarbons now make up 36 per cent of GDP, the lowest in the GCC.

Where the UAE has led, first Saudi and then Qatar have followed, rapidly attempting to diversify their economies. Indeed of the richest four GCC countries, excluding Bahrain and Oman, Kuwait has made the fewest steps towards diversification.

Opec notes that the oil and gas sectors account for 60 per cent of its GDP, and 90 per cent of its exports. (The UAE has one of the lowest in the GCC, at 69 per cent.) This is a shame, because Kuwait pioneered the use of sovereign wealth funds in the GCC, as a way of using oil revenues to create additional income streams – Kuwait’s SWF started in 1953.

All of the GCC is grappling with the same questions as Kuwait. The UAE is fortunate to be preparing well, but no country in the region can afford to be complacent.

Most polluted cities in the Middle East

1. Baghdad, Iraq
2. Manama, Bahrain
3. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
4. Kuwait City, Kuwait
5. Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
6. Ash Shihaniyah, Qatar
7. Abu Dhabi, UAE
8. Cairo, Egypt
9. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
10. Dubai, UAE

Source: 2022 World Air Quality Report

MOST POLLUTED COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD

1. Chad
2. Iraq
3. Pakistan
4. Bahrain
5. Bangladesh
6. Burkina Faso
7. Kuwait
8. India
9. Egypt
10. Tajikistan

Source: 2022 World Air Quality Report

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

Email sent to Uber team from chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi

From: Dara

To: Team@

Date: March 25, 2019 at 11:45pm PT

Subj: Accelerating in the Middle East

Five years ago, Uber launched in the Middle East. It was the start of an incredible journey, with millions of riders and drivers finding new ways to move and work in a dynamic region that’s become so important to Uber. Now Pakistan is one of our fastest-growing markets in the world, women are driving with Uber across Saudi Arabia, and we chose Cairo to launch our first Uber Bus product late last year.

Today we are taking the next step in this journey—well, it’s more like a leap, and a big one: in a few minutes, we’ll announce that we’ve agreed to acquire Careem. Importantly, we intend to operate Careem independently, under the leadership of co-founder and current CEO Mudassir Sheikha. I’ve gotten to know both co-founders, Mudassir and Magnus Olsson, and what they have built is truly extraordinary. They are first-class entrepreneurs who share our platform vision and, like us, have launched a wide range of products—from digital payments to food delivery—to serve consumers.

I expect many of you will ask how we arrived at this structure, meaning allowing Careem to maintain an independent brand and operate separately. After careful consideration, we decided that this framework has the advantage of letting us build new products and try new ideas across not one, but two, strong brands, with strong operators within each. Over time, by integrating parts of our networks, we can operate more efficiently, achieve even lower wait times, expand new products like high-capacity vehicles and payments, and quicken the already remarkable pace of innovation in the region.

This acquisition is subject to regulatory approval in various countries, which we don’t expect before Q1 2020. Until then, nothing changes. And since both companies will continue to largely operate separately after the acquisition, very little will change in either teams’ day-to-day operations post-close. Today’s news is a testament to the incredible business our team has worked so hard to build.

It’s a great day for the Middle East, for the region’s thriving tech sector, for Careem, and for Uber.

Uber on,

Dara

It

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Starring: Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor

Three stars

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Famous left-handers

- Marie Curie

- Jimi Hendrix

- Leonardo Di Vinci

- David Bowie

- Paul McCartney

- Albert Einstein

- Jack the Ripper

- Barack Obama

- Helen Keller

- Joan of Arc

Five expert hiking tips
  • Always check the weather forecast before setting off
  • Make sure you have plenty of water
  • Set off early to avoid sudden weather changes in the afternoon
  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear
  • Take your litter home with you
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Switching sides

Mahika Gaur is the latest Dubai-raised athlete to attain top honours with another country.

Velimir Stjepanovic (Serbia, swimming)
Born in Abu Dhabi and raised in Dubai, he finished sixth in the final of the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the 200m butterfly final.

Jonny Macdonald (Scotland, rugby union)
Brought up in Abu Dhabi and represented the region in international rugby. When the Arabian Gulf team was broken up into its constituent nations, he opted to play for Scotland instead, and went to the Hong Kong Sevens.

Sophie Shams (England, rugby union)
The daughter of an English mother and Emirati father, Shams excelled at rugby in Dubai, then after attending university in the UK played for England at sevens.

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Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

New schools in Dubai
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Roll of honour 2019-2020

Dubai Rugby Sevens

Winners: Dubai Hurricanes

Runners up: Bahrain

 

West Asia Premiership

Winners: Bahrain

Runners up: UAE Premiership

 

UAE Premiership

Winners: Dubai Exiles

Runners up: Dubai Hurricanes

 

UAE Division One

Winners: Abu Dhabi Saracens

Runners up: Dubai Hurricanes II

 

UAE Division Two

Winners: Barrelhouse

Runners up: RAK Rugby

How to watch Ireland v Pakistan in UAE

When: The one-off Test starts on Friday, May 11
What time: Each day’s play is scheduled to start at 2pm UAE time.
TV: The match will be broadcast on OSN Sports Cricket HD. Subscribers to the channel can also stream the action live on OSN Play.

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat