Wealth in Kuwait

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Muna Al-Fuzai

The Wall Street Journal recently published a list of the world’s richest countries. Kuwait ranked fifth in the world and the second in the Arab and Gulf region in terms of per capita gross national income of $72,872 annually, while Qatar ranked first in the world. Kuwait’s gross domestic product for 2017 was $271.1 billion and was ranked 57th among 196 countries in the world.

Kuwait is one of only five countries with a per capita gross national income of more than $70,000. Unlike most of the world’s richest countries, Kuwait has no diversified economy, with oil making up more than 84 percent of exports. The report said the accurate indicator of the country’s economic output is the use of gross product or income. This measure covers all economic activities within state borders as well as wealth created by national entities operating in other countries.
I agree that there is no source of income other than oil in Kuwait, so it is natural to demand to find additional alternatives. But this news was not great for some people, who compared the list with the general situation experienced by many people here, especially those demanding consumer loans be written off, and the hardship of life in Kuwait for both citizens and expats.

The paper, which reviewed gross national income per capita in about 200 countries, said the richest 25 countries tend to have complex and diversified economies to create more wealth in the world, most of it concentrated among the wealthiest people in the richest countries.
I read a comment from a reader, who wondered about the benefit of these billions, as when a Kuwaiti or expat goes to the ministries complex for example, they waste a large amount of the time in paperwork and may not complete their business the first time or if the system is down, which is very common. How sad is it to see Kuwait not using Internet technology and modern methods to facilitate the work of people to process their transactions easily without hassle or fatigue. I believe the wealth of a state must be felt and seen by all and not only a few people.
Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – two major economies in the Middle East – have shown remarkable growth on the back of improved GDP growth and strong financial market performance, the report said. This year, the French company Capgemini for financial services recorded a growth of 8 percent in the number of people whose wealth exceeded $1 million (KD 304,500) from 2018 to 188,000 people in 2019.

I wonder what these new rich people have offered Kuwaiti with regards to charity and societal development. I remember the words of American financier Warren Buffett, who was the richest person in the world in 2008 and the third richest in the world in 2011. In 2012, he became one of the most influential people in the world. He gave one tip – that one must reduce debt and spending on trivial things, adding not to rely on others.
It is good advice I guess, but if you are one of those who borrowed money from the bank, you will be dependent on paying the loan for many years. I do not know what trivial things are? Is buying a house, for example, through loans a trivial matter?

I think such news is not always great because it is a fact that many people suffer from loans and high prices that have become apparent to many people, and living expenses that are no longer cheap. The wealth which the newspaper is talking about might be the richness of the state and not necessarily the wealth of all.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
muna@kuwaittimes.net