The Middle Eastern press was excited about news last week that Apple has been granted an exemption from foreign ownership laws in the UAE to establish 100% control of its operations in the Country. http://bloom.bg/1Lqlzkc There is already news about an Apple store opening in Dubai, with another being added in Abu Dhabi. Many of the articles went on to talk about how the UAE want to bring in new legislation that would encourage FDI and will allow more international businesses to follow suit and own 100% of their UAE subsidiary.
While the story made the front page of the Kuwait Times, it's not really news here in Kuwait - and here's why:
- Kuwait already has an FDI law in place - It's actually a couple of years old and led to the creation of the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA) www.kfib.com.kw who are working to bring international companies to Kuwait, to diversify the economy and develop a private sector (non oil) future for Kuwait's youngsters. The Kuwait British Business Centre is working very closely with KDIPA to bring UK companies who meet their criteria here. Like Apple those companies can retain 100% of the ownership of their newly established Kuwaiti business
- It's working - KDIPA have already had some pretty high profile successes through this method. KDIPA announced back in April that their first investment licence had been issued to IBM. Huawei were announced as investors, this June. In both cases KDIPA represented the companies, did the legwork for them and ensured smooth passage through the relevant Kuwaiti Ministries and public bodies.
- Kuwait has always been a staging post for the Middle East - In the eighteenth century, Kuwait rapidly became the principal commercial centre for the transit of goods between India, Muscat, Baghdad and Arabia. This led to the establishment of a Kuwaiti elite by the first decades of the twentieth century (long before Kuwait discovered oil). The wealthiest families were trade merchants who built their wealth on long distance commerce, shipbuilding and pearling.
Kuwait's history in trading, business and forming beneficial partnerships across the region is as relevant today as it was then. With markets across the Arab world opening up and attempting to develop the infrastructure and skills they need to achieve sustainability in the 21st century, basing yourself in Kuwait, with business friendly laws and a business friendly culture, suddenly seems pretty natural. Maybe Apple might decide to take another bite.....
Martin Hall is the CEO of the Kuwait British Business Centre, the organisation established to drive up the UK's trade with Kuwait.
The Kuwait British Business Centre, working in association with KDIPA can support UK companies wishing to invest and do business in Kuwait. For more information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org