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Sun 20 Dec 2015 04:10 PM

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Kuwait mulling free trade zones on five islands

The multi-purpose areas would help the Gulf state diversify from oil by fostering a bigger private sector

Kuwait mulling free trade zones on five islands
Kuwaiti Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and Minister of State for Development and Planning Affairs Hind Al-Sabeeh. (Getty Images)

Kuwait is considering establishing free trade zones on five of its islands, State Minister for Planning and Development Hind Al Sabeeh reportedly said.

The proposal would help the Gulf state diversify from oil. Kuwait is expected to record its first deficit in nearly two decades this financial year amid lower oil revenues, which account for about 90 percent of GDP.

Al Sabeeh said the “comprehensive and multi-purpose” free trade zones “would act as an economic and cultural gateway for the northern Gulf region and Kuwait, and would support the Kuwaiti economy – thus raising its regional and international competitiveness,” Arab Times reported.

“This will aid in limiting the dependency on public funds and in providing job opportunities for young Kuwaitis looking to work outside of the public sector,” the minister added.

The islands being considered are Boubyan, Failaka, Warba, Miskan and Awha, some of which lie close to the shores of Iraq and Iran.

The government is already building a multi-billion dollar container harbour at Boubyan.

The islands are also close to Kuwait’s planned Silk City project in Subbiya, Arab Times reported. Work is underway on a 25-kilometre, $2.6 billion causeway linking the capital with Subbiya.

The Supreme Council for Planning and Development has asked the Cabinet to urgently assess the proposal, Al Subeeh said.

If approved, the private sector would be asked to finance, execute and operate the free zones.

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