Kuwait is a founding member state of the Digital Cooperation Organization.
Similar to many countries in the Gulf, Kuwait’s development is being guided by a transformation blueprint, in this case ‘New Kuwait 2035’.
A core tenet of this national vision is the digitalization of both the economy and public services, with the aim of driving economic diversification and job creation.
Spanning infrastructure, skills development, and regulatory reform, initiatives are overseen by three key entities: the Central Agency for Information Technology (CAIT), the Ministry of Communications and IT and the Communications and IT Regulatory Authority (CITRA). Under their guidance, Kuwait is rapidly adopting new technologies and business models, resulting in a thriving private tech sector and a digitally advanced society.
- In 2017, Kuwaiti food delivery start up, Carriage was acquired by Delivery Hero for $100m.
- In 2018, the Kuwait Central Bank created a fintech sandbox to allow new products and services to be developed and inform regulatory change.
- In 2019, Kuwait unveiled a $200m fund for technology investments.
- In 2019, Kuwait and Estonia signed a MoU to bolster cybersecurity partnerships and share digital transformation learnings.
- In 2020, Kuwait announced expenditure of $1.4bn on facilities for e-learning programs and online learning platforms.
- In 2021, major conglomerate Alghanim Industries undertook a major digital literacy program for Kuwaiti students in partnership with Google.
- In 2021, Kuwait passed its first comprehensive data privacy protection regulation, affording rights to individuals on how their data is used.
- In 2022, the Ministry of Communications and IT launched its ‘Sahel’ application to provide e-services for citizens and residents.
Kuwait has made large strides towards its ultimate objective of achieving a full digital transformation.
Vital infrastructure such as 5g networks have been deployed across all three of the country’s main mobile operators, while cloud solution services have been steadily expanding, helping to drive business innovation.
In the public sector, the Ministry of Communications and IT recently announced the launch of its Sahel app, which centralizes government e-services, enabling citizens to conduct all necessary transactions with government departments through their smartphone.
Under the CITRA, new laws have been implemented to ensure data privacy for citizens while regulations have been streamlined for fast-growing and competitive sectors such as fintech.
International technology firms, including General Electric and Huawei, have also been attracted to set up in the country thanks to tax and procurement incentives.
Crucially, a focus talent development has been maintained with a range of programs and partnerships being established. This has provided a steady stream of employees for domestic startups, multi-national players and public sector institutions with the knowledge and skillset to develop and implement solutions in industries such as cloud computing and AI.
Combined, these conditions have resulted in a dynamic business environment that has helped to foster some of the region’s most successful technology companies. Delivery companies Talabat and Carriage have been acquired by global giants, while innovative startups such as FRM Techlabs and Unit X are leveraging state of the art technologies to provide solutions in fields ranging from digital identification to e-payments.
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