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China eyes share of Kuwait's $450bn Silk City, Boubyan Island projects

Top Chinese officials visit Kuwait to spur megaprojects' development as Gulf country supports Belt and Road Initiative

China will support Kuwait in the construction and development of the multibillion-dollar Silk City.
© Kuna
China will support Kuwait in the construction and development of the multibillion-dollar Silk City.

Senior government officials from China and Kuwait have met to establish mechanisms to advance the development of the Gulf country's Silk City and Boubyan Island schemes.

Ning Jizhe, vice chairman of the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission, has led the Chinese delegation to Kuwait. Following high-level talks, the 35-person Chinese delegation will take a helicopter tour over the Silk City and Boubyan Island project sites, according to the Kuwait News Agency (Kuna).

Kuwait hopes to attract up to $450bn (KWD136bn) in foreign investment through the two megaprojects, Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the country’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, said in 2018.

China’s visit to Kuwait is part of a long-running collaboration between the two nations over support for their respective megaprojects. 

Kuwait and China signed a memorandum of understanding in Beijing last year to establish mechanisms to get the Silk City and Boubyan Island megaprojects off the ground. The agreement reinforced Kuwait’s commitment to support the trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which Chinese President Xi Jinping has dubbed the “project of the century”.

BRI is a state-backed multilateral infrastructure programme spanning three continents that, through a network of projects across land and sea, aims to promote Chinese trade and influence.

Kuwait is strategically important to Beijing’s long-term plan to revive the ancient Silk Road trading route due to its geographic location. China is also considering making Kuwait a base for a rail network stretching from Central Asia to the GCC, Kuna reported.

Meanwhile, Kuwait views BRI as an important driver for growth in the Gulf country. The 250km² China-backed Silk City, worth up to $86bn (KWD26.1bn), is central to Kuwait's strategy to become a commercial and financial hub in the region.

Silk City will be built over 25 years and aims to reposition Kuwait as a regional hub for investment and commerce.

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Construction Week - Issue 744
Jun 15, 2019