2020 saw the passing of Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, a ruler who played a pivotal role in maintaining Kuwait’s very strong international relations, including its neutrality on Saudi Arabia’s blockade against Qatar. He is succeeded by his half-brother Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who is expected to uphold the same diplomatic policies.
Kuwait’s economy is heavily dependent on the oil and gas industry, a sector which has stagnated since the Covid-19 pandemic and is increasingly becoming a less attractive investment due to its impact on climate change. Much like other GCC countries, Kuwait has sought to diversify its economy. One particular initiative is ‘Silk City’, a smart city expected to attract business travel through its extensive conference halls and business centres, as well as tourists through its location along the Arabian Gulf coast. Kuwait has also considered assisting Qatar with hosting some matches for the FIFA 2022 World Cup.
Privatisation has also been a key factor in driving the country’s move towards diversification, with the country’s communication services and postal sectors expected to move away from the public sector. Most of the major infrastructure projects are operated through PPPs, with a strong emphasis on power, healthcare and education.
Kuwait’s legal market is a closed market. DLA Piper was the only international firm with a significant presence but recently closed its official tie up with local outfit Al-Wagayan, Al Awadhi and Al-Saif. However, Al Tamimi & Company, a very strong regional firm in the Middle East, is also based in the country. Al Markaz Law Firm, ASAR - Al Ruwayeh & Partners, Meysan Partners and Al Oula Law Firm (Adel Abdulhadi & Partners) are among the leading independent firms.