Leaders Kuwait 2017: Keynote address from Talal Al-Shammari, GSSCPD

Talal Al-Shammari, assistant secretary general for consultation and development support at Kuwait’s General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, offers insights into the country’s construction-related prospects


Talal Al-Shammari, assistant secretary general for consultation and development support at Kuwait’s General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, offers insights into the country’s construction-related prospects.

The inaugural edition of the Leaders in Construction Kuwait Summit proved to be a much needed platform for the Gulf nation’s construction sector, as more than 100 professionals gathered to share their insights into the top industry trends affecting the market today.

With 722 active projects worth a combined estimated value of $234.4bn in the Kuwait construction sector, there is no better time to invest in this giant – albeit little talked about – market. 

Local and international companies participated in the first-ever summit, held on 18 October at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Kuwait City, to talk business, network, and share ideas about the best ways to approach the market at a time of uncertainty due to low oil prices.

Giving the keynote address, Talal Al-Shammari, assistant secretary general for consultation and development support at the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development (GSSCPD), made note of the growing potential Kuwait’s construction sector is now realising. 

“The construction sector is booming in Kuwait. According to progress reports that are published by the GSSCPD, the number of development projects during 2016/2017 is 279,” he said. 

This number included 25 completed projects, 152 projects that were under construction, and 91 projects in the planning phase, Al-Shammari explained. 

Giving a general update on construction progress in the Gulf nation, Al-Shammari added that the there were also 35 megaprojects now under development, worth a combined $7.3bn (KD2.200bn). 

These projects include the Sabah Al-Salem University Campus, Al-Zour Refinery, the Bio-Fuel Centre, Sheikh Jaber Causeway, Mubarak Al-Kabeer Port, Kuwait Airport’s Terminal 2, Jaber Hospital, Farwaniya Hospital, the New Sabah Hospital, and Al-Adan Hospital, among others.

At the core of his speech, Al-Shammari highlighted the Kuwait National Development Plan, inspired by His Highness the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad’s Vision 2035 for Kuwait, which aims to increase the country’s global competitiveness through the construction of major development projects. 

Al-Shammari said: “Kuwait’s development plan aims [to transform] Kuwait into an attractive investment destination where the private sector leads economic activity.” 

And Kuwait is making progress with this goal, with total financial allocations reaching $9.9bn as part of its 2016/2017 agenda, as compared to $7.5m for 2015/2016, which saw a total of 529 projects with financial allocations reaching $19bn. 

The country is also following its neighbours in the adoption of the public-private partnership (PPP) model in its approach to funding projects, a topic that was discussed at length at the summit. 

According to Al-Shammari, there are several urban development projects being developed under the PPP model at present. These include a service centre, workers’ cities in the south of Jahra, and the Al-Khairan Power Station, as well as high-level projects like the Kuwait Metro, the railway, and a major solid waste management project.

Another major aspect of Al-Shammari’s speech involved the country’s vision of the ‘New Kuwait’, one of the more significant facets of the development plan. In fact, the concept of New Kuwait was discussed in depth throughout the conference, as both speakers and audience members weighed in (page 24). 

Al-Shammari explained that this plan “is closely linked to the successful development of a creative human capital”, leading to effective government management, a sustainable and diverse economy, developed infrastructure, sustainable living, and high-quality healthcare, to ultimately boost Kuwait’s global position.

“The plan takes into [consideration] societal values and maintains [Kuwait’s] heritage and identity to achieve a balanced human development, providing adequate infrastructure, sophisticated legislations, and an investment inductive environment,” he said. 

Kuwait is set to see additional revenue streams that will facilitate economic growth in the coming years. Investments worth billions of dollars have been earmarked for infrastructure projects across the state, showcasing the government’s commitment to maintaining capital spending at healthy levels despite the downturn in the region’s oil sector. 

According to Al-Shammari, local businesses are wary of the latest reform initiatives, however, as they have witnessed little or no progress on projects over the past several years. He added that this was also the case with initiatives that were laid out in the 2010 development plan, which saw a number of major state-sponsored infrastructure projects delayed for a variety of reasons, for periods ranging from three to 10 years. 

Nevertheless, potential opportunities in Kuwait’s construction market seem to abound, and many industry leaders at the conference were very optimistic. 

“This sought-after environment will be fostering and promoting competition, improving production efficiency with the support of effective and efficient public institutions,” Al-Shammari concluded.

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