Kuwait is a geographically small country with a population of around 3 million, more than half of which are immigrants. Kuwait has a wealthy and relatively open economy. Its GDP is around 180 billion USD in 2013, nearly half of which is accounted for by petroleum. 95% of Kuwait’s export consists of petroleum; Kuwait’s import include food, construction materials, vehicles and parts and clothing. The economy is hardly diversified, however in 2010 an economic development plan was passed which is meant to diversify away from oil, attract more investments and boost private sector participation in the economy.
The focus of investment in Kuwait is on infrastructure development projects, such as ports/airport, power and water, hospitals, residential cities, oil pipelines, rail and metro systems, roads and bridges, educational institutions, refineries, and oil sector modernization. Moreover, Kuwait has one of the highest energy consumption rates per capita in the world, with the average Kuwaiti using 22 times more resources than the country provides per person. Hence, Kuwait intends to generate 15% of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030 – simultaneously cutting back on its oil consumption. Renewable energy sources can be found in the abundance of sun and wind. Kuwait can gain much from Dutch expertise in energy efficiency.
Arab (or Western) firms who want to do business in Kuwait are advised to operate through a local agent or joint venture partner. Several well-known Arab companies are present and active in the Gulf Region; most of them work either on smaller partial tender packages or as subcontractor to the larger EPC’s.