Why We Shouldn’t Overlook Poverty in Kuwait


SEATTLE — While many people in Kuwait are financially stable, there are impoverished communities that go unnoticed. Nearly 500,000 citizens can only afford rental homes, and 106,000 people are still waiting for government-provided housing. Signs show, however, that poverty in Kuwait can be reduced.

When five University of South Florida–St. Petersburg MBA students visited Kuwait in 2014, they discovered that the country has no income tax and charges no interest. Higher education in Kuwait is free, and government funding is available for overseas college tuition as well. The country’s unemployment rate is a mere 2.5 percent.

In 2016, Kuwait’s assistant secretary general revealed that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to increase 5.9 percent by 2020. If Kuwait’s population increases by 2.6 percent annually, the country’s per capita income will increase as well.

Kuwait’s government passed new legislation in 2015 intended to improve the country’s economic diversity. The legislation seeks to reduce dependence on oil as a primary income source. In 2016, a program called the Lattanzio Group revealed intentions to diversify Kuwait’s economy and make it more competitive.

In 2016, Ayman Nada, a partner and corporate head at Kuwait’s Al Markaz Law Firm, proposed that recent changes in the government’s approach to contracting and investing could make Kuwait a “regional business hub.” Diversifying the country’s economy is especially important since the oil market may not remain stable in the long term.

Not just about business, Kuwait is home to humanitarian organizations as well. The Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) is an organization that hosts campaigns to feed and clothe the country’s poor. The organization also provides medicine to Kuwaitis who cannot otherwise afford it. The KRCS works both nationally and internationally to assist the poor.

In the midst of Kuwait’s wealth, it is important not to forget the country’s poor. So long as efforts persist to better the lives of impoverished citizens, poverty in Kuwait could become a problem of the past.

Rhondjé Singh Tanwar

Photo: Flickr


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