KuwaIT’s Big Bet On Tech

TV was big in the 90s.

Holding a remote control then was as powerful as holding an iPhone today.

You’d have shows like “The Simpsons” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” If you watched the news sometime between January 17 to February 28 1991, you’d be treated to surreal scenes of “Operation Desert Storm”—the campaign to liberate Kuwait.  

Kuwait hugged international headlines when Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein invaded it in 1990, precipitating what we now know as the “Gulf War.”

Iraq not only wanted greater access to the Persian Gulf, but Kuwait also had the sixth-largest proven oil reserves in the world. Over 90% of its export revenues come from oil.

But ironically, today, Kuwait is trying to free itself from dependence on oil. Like so many other nation-states in the Middle East, Kuwait is gearing up and pushing hard to diversify its economy.

New Kuwait: 2035

In 2017, the Kuwaiti government launched a national development program aimed at transforming the country into a hub for business and development: New Kuwait 2035.

(A similar plan was released in 2010 but didn’t gain much traction.)

H.E. the Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah said of the program:

Today we launch a vision reinforced with an achievable and measurable plan for a New Kuwait. Today we launch initiatives that will transform our economy, create jobs, attract foreign direct investments and facilitate knowledge transfer in the fields of renewable energy, information technology, and the services sector. Today we launch a consolidated and comprehensive strategy that will empower and inspire the country for generations to come.

The national agenda is said to have 7 strategic pillars:

  • Public Administration
  • Economy
  • Infrastructure
  • Living Environment
  • Healthcare
  • Human Capital
  • Position

With over $100 billion allotted for the initiative, the country is hoping to hit 20 indicators and sub-indicators that would put Kuwait in the top 35% (of countries) by 2035.

The country envisions a more diverse economy, with more of its citizens participating in sectors like banking and finance, technology and trade. It is as well trying to corner a bigger piece of the foreign direct investments pie, hoping that the influx of capital will invigorate dormant markets.   

Technology As The Backbone…and More

Because any vision of the future will have technology at the heart of it, Kuwaiti leadership has consciously invested in technologies that will quarterback the country into the future.

It is betting on tech and, quite literally, laying the groundwork. The nation is busy installing fibre optic backbones—high-speed connectivity required by smart cities and 5G technologies.

Traditionally, hi-tech solutions have been the province of the oil and energy sectors. But that is slowly changing. The government is now pushing for digital transformation in both the public and private sectors.

Coinciding with an entrepreneurial boom, businesses, old and new, big and small, are looking into modernizing their IT infrastructures and adopting technologies that enhance customer experience, improve operational efficiency and contribute more profits. For example, Fintech has established a strong foothold for contactless and cashless transactions.

Kuwaiti leadership is committed to spending $10.1 billion through 2024 for the adoption of techs like artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and big data.

Not only is the country betting on technology as the backbone of businesses, but it’s also kindling life into the tech sector itself, helping start-ups through funding initiatives and knowledge transfers.  

We can see signs of the country’s tech sector starting to heat up. For example, in logistics alone, there are around a dozen tech startups that range from book pickups, hyperlocal delivery services to fleet management.

Kuwait has a long way to go, but with the government pushing for a digital revolution, it will only be a matter of time for this Middle Eastern country to make headlines once again.  

A Young Workforce

Kuwait is a nation of young people. According to the United Nations Development Programme, 70% of Kuwaitis are 34 years old or below. (That’s over two-thirds in a population of around 4.3 million.)

This is a double-edged sword. A young population can quickly adapt to the pace of technological developments and adopt the latest tech offerings. There’s virtually 100% internet penetration in a country where 98.8% are considered social media users. Smartphone ownership is at 98%—even higher than that of UAE (94%), Saudi Arabia (90%) and Bahrain (81%).

There are more mobiles phones in Kuwait than there are people.

This is all good news to a government pushing for a digital revolution, to have a populace so ready to embrace technology. Unfortunately, technical expertise and experience are often not on the side of youth. According to an Oxford Business Group report, 67% of workers have below 10 years of experience.

The same report states that in the coming years, the country would see a rise in the demand for software developers, app developers, IT department heads, e-commerce personnel.

A World Bank study indicated that while the country has seen tremendous leaps in education and training, many still lack the broad set of skills needed to thrive in the private sector.   

So then you have a problem where the government is trying to move the country forward but is lacking in the appropriate personnel for the job.

The standard solution in years past was to go and import the expertise outside Kuwait, hiring expats to come in and do the job. (In the oil boom after the Second World War, the government promoted the import of foreign workers to man the rapidly rising oil industry.)

Of the 4.3 million people living in Kuwait today, 70% or 3.4 million people are expats. 

Unfortunately, as of late, Kuwait has been looking into the demographic imbalance in the country. In 2020, the National Assembly has passed the Demographic Imbalance Bill, giving the government rights to set quotas and other mechanisms to address the disparity between Kuwaiti nationals and expats.

Kuwaitisation,” which aims to have a 100% Kuwaiti workforce in the public sector, has been going on since 2017 and has led to mass layoffs of foreign workers. In 2021, 90% of jobs in energy and social services and 81% of government jobs are held by Kuwaitis.

The Remote Staffing Advantage

As earlier mentioned, you have a government betting big on tech, but without the personnel experience and expertise to realize the vision. Bringing in experts from outside the country is not a very attractive option at the moment, considering the high costs, stiff quotas, and the political climate.

Remote staffing fits perfectly in this situation. It involves hiring a professional, without physically bringing him into the country. Tech has made it possible so that whole tasks and jobs can be performed online—from software developers to virtual assistants, accountants and engineers.

This setup is ideal for start-ups, small and medium-sized businesses. With remote staffing, you not only cut on the high costs of moving people into the country, but you also help in the government efforts to keep the country’s demographics in check. Remote staffing presents a win-win solution by providing the nation with expertise, with no strings attached.

As a remote staffing partner, Kinetic helps companies find the ideal candidate for the job. We work with expert professionals in tech, sales & marketing, finance, and admin & support—housing a database of over 4 million professionals covering practically all types of jobs and occupations.

Our service includes proprietary software to help you easily manage remote teams.

We do all that and more…at the fraction of the cost. 

Talk to us and we’ll show you exactly how!

Kinetic Innovative Staffing has been providing hundreds of companies in the Asia Pacific, North America, the Middle East, and Europe with professionals working remotely from the Philippines since 2013. Get in touch to know more.

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