What is the role that Kuwait plays on an international level and in diplomacy?
I am proud to see that Kuwait has regained, or is starting to regain, its place amongst the world community, specifically on its diplomatic credentials. And one of the things that singles Kuwait out from many other countries is that it is truly neutral on a multitude of very sensitive and important issues. And that is the main reason Kuwait has had the great honor to be asked by the United Nations to hold not one but two donor conferences on the Syrian humanitarian crisis. This was in recognition of the fact that Kuwait has the ability to bring different parties to the table, because it truly is politically neutral on many issues.
However, if there is one thing we are not neutral on, it is humanitarian issues, and it is again with great pride that Kuwait was called by the UN secretary-general very recently “the capital of humanitarian provision and humanitarian help.” And again, we pride ourselves on being Kuwaitis, not only in the government but also in the private sector as citizens, to be very engaged with nongovernmental associations and charities that attempt to alleviate the suffering caused by any natural or manmade upheaval. I recall very clearly the way that Kuwaitis were very generous in providing assistance for the Haitian crisis, the earthquake that occurred recently. The same holds true for the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear disaster. So our humanitarian drive is not based on our regional or sectarian or linguistic positioning; it is truly a universal, global issue that hits the hearts of every single Kuwaiti. And I am proud to be a member of a community that feels the duty toward humanity that we do right now.
How would you describe this period of time for Kuwait?
I would say that this is truly a juncture in the history of modern Kuwait (i.e., Kuwait after the Constitution). We have recently changed electoral law to allow one man, one vote. We have also pushed through a dramatic development plan that intends to inject a lot of government money into the infrastructure. But more important, into the development of our human capital, which is the most essential resource we have. And finally, it is a time in history when because of Kuwait’s position and size, we are normally greatly influenced by what is going on in the region and thankfully things have stabilized much more recently in the neighborhood than has been the case in the past ten to fifteen years. So when you bring all these things together, you will find that it is truly a great opportunity for Kuwait. Not only for Kuwaitis, but also for foreign businesses that intend to partner with us.
What initiatives do you have in place for the development of youth in Kuwait?
We have lots of initiatives. One of the most important events that I have to define or speak about is the institution of our most recent ministry, the Ministry for Youth and Youth Affairs, which came into effect over a year ago now. We established the ministry in an attempt to ensure that we have one body tasked with looking into ways to ameliorate, focus, and define means and measures by which government spending and initiatives can be targeted or will reach the target or focus audience, namely the youth. A multitude of different events and investments have been undertaken by the ministry in its very short tenure in an attempt to emphasize the importance of youth. I doubt that a week goes by that we don’t have a minister inaugurating or opening some small business or enterprise. Another very important development that needs to be mentioned is the recent establishment of a fund of approximately KWD 7 billion for small and medium enterprises that was passed by law over six to eight months ago. For sure, the youth—the eighteen- to thirty-five-year-olds who certainly make up a large proportion of that—is the target group. This group also constitutes a disproportionately large percentage of the population, and I am sure they will stand to gain proportionately as much as they deserve from this fund. We can go on for hours speaking about the different events or initiatives, different ways and means by which the government is attempting to take action, not only to speak, and I am happy to go into the details of that if you like. We just inaugurated two mini-racetracks, because we are aware that the youth enjoy go-karting and drifting, and I don’t know what other things the youth like doing with their cars nowadays, and that is very recent. The Ministry of Youth and Sports, together with many nongovernmental organizations, have instituted different initiatives by which the youth are sent for training overseas by joint ventures with different international conglomerates that Kuwaiti parties have ownership in. We have a fantastic initiative by which any Kuwaiti who receives accreditation or acceptance from the top one hundred universities listed in the Times Educational Supplement, or the report that defines these universities in the United States, gets automatic scholarship from the government. Many education, extracurricular activities—for example every Kuwaiti student gets a monthly stipend from the government paying for books and sundries for university. So it’s a multicolored, multileveled approach that we’re taking in an attempt to make sure that the youth of today develop into the true masters of fate for Kuwait in the future.
“Most economies that are functioning well are based primarily on returns from small and medium enterprises.”
“If you were to have spoken to someone of my age sixty-five years ago, they would have said ‘the next generation can’t outdo us.’ The next generation did outdo them, and did it royally, and on a world stage, and maybe the generation after us has to shoot for the stars.”