Page 1

Fall / Winter 2016

CHARTING HISTORY WITH DR. ESSA DASHTI TAREK H. SHUAIB ON

URBAN INNOVATIONS PRICELESS

THE ARAB ORGANIZATION HEADQUARTERS' ART COLLECTION

KUWAIT-US STRATEGIC DIALOG A SAFER FUTURE FOR ALL

FAMILY FOUNDATIONS AHMADIAH: OVER SIXTY YEARS OF SUCCESS


C O N T E N T S

A PUBLICATION OF THE KUWAITI KILMA MEDIA & ADVERTISING CO.

08 THE FUTURE IS IN OUR HANDS Abdulaziz Al-Anjeri on the opportunities afforded by Kuwait's recent election

10 UNITED FRONT Kuwait-US Strategic Dialog: a vital new mission to secure the Gulf

12 BREXIT Can the GCC benefit from Britain's departure from the EU?

C O N T R I B U T O R S HAYDER TAWFIK HILMI HAKIM

RICK ROBISON

ALI BOSHEHRY

RHODA MUHMOOD MBE P. JUSTIN ANTONY

CHARLOTTE SHALGOSKY

20 BURGER BONANZA Analyzing Kuwait's booming burger business

32 LESSONS IN LIFE Rhoda Muhmood MBE on the need for teaching life skills at school

44 WITNESS TO CHANGE An exclusive interview with Kuwait’s construction giant Ahmadiah

52 RUNNING PACE How a leading Kuwaiti architectural firm is securing its future

58 LOCAL ATTRACTION Nabila Al-Anjeri on kick-starting Kuwait's tourist potential

64 STAMP OF APPROVAL Tracing the historic friendship between Kuwait and Great Britain

74 ARTISTIC APEX

FLOOR 16, MAZAYA TOWER #2 KHALID IBN AL-WALEED ST, SHARQ, KUWAIT P.O.BOX: 21585, 130761 SAFAT, KUWAIT TEL. 22202581 / 22202589 FAX 22202562

EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ABDULAZIZ AL-ANJERI A.ALANJERI@ROSETTE.CC EXECUTIVE EDITOR CHARLOTTE SHALGOSKY EDITOR@ROSETTE.CC EDITORIAL ASSISTANT LYNNE DAVIS CONTENTEDITOR@ROSETTE.CC CONTRIBUTORS ABDULAZIZ AL-ANJERI HAYDER TAWFIK ALI BOUSHEHRY RHODA MUHMOOD MBE P. JUSTIN ANTONY CHARLOTTE SHALGOSKY RICK ROBISON VINCENTE SIMAO STUDIO THE KUWAITI KILMA MEDIA & ADVERTISING CO. KUWAIT HEAD OF DESIGN SAMER AL SAYED S.ELSAYED@ALKILMA.COM PHOTOGRAPHY APACHE PHOTOGRAPHY COMPANY PACE KUWAIT ADVERTISING, SUBSCRIPTIONS MARKETING@THECORRESPONDENT.CC GROUP WEBSITE WWW.ROSETTE.CC

RECOMMENDED RETAIL PRICE KD5.000 US$16.00 £12.00

A glimpse of the Arab Organization Headquarters' art collection

82 HONORING OUR HEROES A special tribute to those who helped liberate Kuwait

@The_Correspondent_Magazine @CorrespondentUS

NOTICE: The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for errors and/or omissions contained in this publication, no matter how they may be caused. The opinions and the views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication, which is provided for general use and may not be seen as appropriate by a reader due to their particular circumstances. No part of this publication or any part of the contents may be reproduced either digitally or electronically without the explicit authorisation of the Editor-in-Chief /publisher in writing; a fee may be levied for reproduction. The ownership of trademarks is acknowledged. ABCK Ltd. (the trademark of the American Business Council - Kuwait) is a member of the global network of American Chambers of Commerce. ABCK Ltd.’s mission is to promote trade, investment and goodwill between the United States of America, the membership, and the State of Kuwait. ABCK Ltd. is an independent, not-for-profit association as identified in US IRS Code 501(c) (6) comprised of leading American corporations present in Kuwait, their partner corporations, small and medium sized businesses, and prominent business leaders and entrepreneurs. The ABCK Ltd. through its focus groups, committees and programs provides a forum for business executives to pursue and discuss issues impacting business operations between the US and Kuwait. Through the support of its members, the ABCK Ltd. is the recognized voice of American business in Kuwait and beyond. For more information, visit: www.abckw.org

Since June 2015 The Correspondent is a publication produced wholly independently by The Kilma Media and Advertising Company and has no affiliation whatsoever with any prior publications under the same name.


world of e th r e v o c is d to u Invite yo inding b k o o B e k o sp e B Fine Printing & ntatives in Kuwait eprese through our new r By appointment

only

W E LC O M E I strongly believe that change is crucial for a nation to evolve to its full potential; indeed, it can be the bedrock of progress. This double issue of The Correspondent platforms those names who, for many decades, have – literally - been changing the world we live in.

of Kuwait for more than six decades. We also talk to Tarek H. Shuaib, Managing Partner of Pace, whose firm has also played a part in the region’s changing urban landscape and learn how innovation keeps his company ahead of the game.

Our focus this Fall/Winter issue is on Construction. Our cover story, ‘Witness to Change’, is a rare interview with Ayad AlThuwainy, Vice Chairman of Ahmadiah, a pioneer of Kuwait’s construction industry. From heavy industry to luxury office towers, Ahmadiah has been changing the skyline

Elections offer entire nations a chance to change their future; in my first Op-Ed I uphold my own belief and hope that Kuwait’s recent elections, with their high voter turnout, are an indicator of the people's desire for lasting, fundamental change.

Tourism is just one area where we know the nation can reap benefits, in an exclusive interview Nabila Al-Anjeri tells us how. Lastly, in our Education section we read how to encourage young people to be the leaders of tomorrow. Mrs. Rhoda Muhmood MBE, one of Kuwait’s foremost educators, argues that in order to nurture tomorrow’s nation-builders, it is imperative that education equips our children not just for exams, but for life. I heartily agree; I hope you do too.

www.barnardandwestwood.com

Wishing you a prosperous and progressive 2017. Abdulaziz M. Al-Anjeri EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Inspired by creativity, created by craftsmen Kuwait

Floor 24, Mazaya Tower 2 Khalid Ibn Al-Waleed St. Sharq, Kuwait +965 2220 2589 By appointment only

London

Barnard & Westwood 23 Pakenham Street London WC1X 0LB +44 (0) 20 7923 5960


Mr. Lawrence Silverman

EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Kuwait City, Kuwait - Fall/Winter 2016

Dear Readers, I am excited to be in Kuwait. My wife Victoria and I were humbled when President Obama and Secretary Kerry chose me to lead the U.S. Mission to the State of Kuwait. I hope to be worthy of their confidence. It was over 50 years ago that Mr. Howard Cottam was appointed as the first resident U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait. He and the U.S. envoys that followed him nurtured a bilateral friendship that has been tested in all conceivable ways and continues to grow stronger. We are reminded of those experiences in this issue of The Correspondent, which features a wonderful project of an American non-profit organization that has painstakingly documented and shared with Kuwaiti and American veterans the steadfast collaboration during 1990-1991. The special friendship between the United States and Kuwait, however, is not just about past struggles and triumphs; it is also about the present and, most importantly, the future – in all fields of cooperation. The Education section of this issue explores the enormous potential of youth empowerment and the value of lifelong education. Educational and scientific exchanges between our two countries will enhance the future. Kuwait entrusts thousands of its young people every year to American universities, where they broaden their global outlook, gain knowledge and insight, and establish long-lasting friendships. We welcome them with open arms. Kuwaiti alumni are the future of the relationship between the people of both the United States and Kuwait. Now, thanks to greater administrative efficiency, visas to study in America are issued more swiftly than ever. I pledge to continue these improvements. I hope you enjoy this issue of The Correspondent, which in a very short time has established itself as a professional — and visually beautiful – magazine, presenting the best that business communities and the State of Kuwait can offer. I hope, too, that you will join Victoria and me in finding ways to build on the legacy of America’s unique friendship with Kuwait.

Sincerely Yours,

Mr. Lawrence Silverman Ambassador

6

7


SOCIETY

THE FUTURE IS IN OUR HANDS Editor-in-Chief, Abdulaziz Al-Anjeri analyses Kuwait's unique eco-political landscape, and points out the opportunities afforded in the recent elections. The Correspondent Editor-In-Chief, Abdulaziz M. Al-Anjeri 2004 was a heady year for Kuwait. The fall of Saddam Hussain in Iraq had lifted the proverbial Damocles sword from Kuwait’s long suffering neck and nothing seemed impossible. Business was booming and everyone here from logistics giants to food distributors to used car dealers experienced an explosion in trade. We all thought the change of leadership in Iraq heralded a new era not just for Kuwait but for the region. Economic growth and prosperity would be fueled by development and all of us were sure to benefit. Twelve years on and the economic euphoria has collapsed into torpor and hopes for Kuwait have all but drained away. Few among us now can envision a bright and prosperous future for our beloved country. A combination of factors are to blame. First the political infighting that dominated Kuwaiti politics from 2006 until 2012 has taken its toll. In the past, despite the parliament gradually becoming aligned more closely with the government’s point of view this didn’t result in a revival of the widespread confidence and optimism felt in those early days after the removal of Saddam. While it’s true a handful of 'mega'

8

development projects have finally gotten off the ground, the boom we’d all hoped for has mostly been a bust. The 2008/2009 global economic crisis continues to reverberate. Business in Kuwait and across the region has rebounded to some extent but the sting of the credit crunch, bankruptcies and job losses from those dark times continues to hurt. More importantly, regional confidence has been stymied. As much as people want to take risks, invest and start new business, they just aren’t getting the support they need. Other factors including the conflicts in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen as well as the ongoing instability and conflict in Iraq, not to mention the heinous attack on our own soil, have left us feeling vulnerable, afraid and doubtful of a peaceful future for the region. Meanwhile the unprecedented rise of corruption at home coupled with uncertainty over the country’s political future has further eroded whatever confidence investors might have in Kuwait’s economic prospects. This lack of confidence has very real, very painful consequences. It has limited economic growth, innovation,

technology transfer, foreign direct investment (FDI) and development. Indeed, in 2015 Kuwait received the lowest amount of FDI in the entire GCC, and this despite a new FDI law, passed in 2013, and the best efforts of the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA). Foreign investment aside, Kuwait’s malaise goes much deeper than a lack of investment from abroad. The reality is that we Kuwaitis have lost our verve, our vision of what Kuwait can be. Our fathers and grandfathers imagined a modern, developed economy with national industries and flourishing trade. When oil was discovered, they set out to turn that vision into a reality. The optimism that erupted after Saddam’s demise was a similar chance to develop Kuwait. In the last 12 years,however, we have deviated from the right path. Confidence is key to any endeavor. The belief that Kuwait has a future, a future that includes economic prosperity, peace and stability and a rightful role in regional and international affairs is an absolute necessity if we hope to ever see such a future. If collectively, we have all bought into the notion that Kuwait cannot survive past the end of oil

and that it will never return to the heydays of economic prosperity, then surely we will fulfill this depressing prophecy. Now that the elections are over and a new parliament is in place, it is time to shake off the doom and gloom; we can once again gain control of our nation’s destiny. We can take a cue from the hundreds of young entrepreneurs and small business owners in Kuwait who have blithely ignored the warnings and instead started businesses from a storefront or even online. We can channel our expertise, our resources, our entrepreneurial spirit and our energy to building a future we want to see. We can stop focusing so much on what’s wrong with Kuwait and instead start building what we want to be right. We can stop blaming expats and being afraid of what will happen when the oil runs out. We can stop waiting for someone to build the future for us and instead we can start right now, today, planning and deciding what Kuwait can be in five, 10, 20 years down the road. The future is in our hands, and the time for action is now.

9


DIPLOMACY

UNITED FRONT The inaugural Kuwait-US Strategic Dialog in October has planned a roadmap for increased collaboration, The Correspondent investigates. In October 2016, high level meetings concluded a raft of new initiatives at the inaugural Kuwait-US Strategic Dialog. Kuwait and the United States are expected to see increased collaboration in a wide number of areas, The Correspondent reports. The US and Kuwait have a long and close relationship but as the geopolitical landscape shifts across the Middle East and instabilities grow, the need to work more closely together becomes imperative. Co-chaired by Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, HE Shaikh Sabah Al-Khaled AlHamad Al-Sabah and US Secretary of State, John Kerry, the Kuwait-US Strategic Dialog is an annual platform where both sides can discuss their relationship and enhance it in a large number of areas. These areas range from all-important defense and security, to how to improve economic, political and consular cooperation, as well as bilateral agreements on science and education.

The Dialog's two leaders met in Washington DC in October 2016

10

The two sides have already established a number of working groups who will be charged with pushing through the ideas mooted at the Dialog, prior to next year’s meeting to be held in Kuwait.

Summing up the meeting, the final statement announced that “The two sides recognize that [the] meeting was a comprehensive exchange that established a roadmap for deepening the Kuwait-US partnership in the coming years.”

against the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, which have been topmost in the minds of most leaders. Kuwait has joined The Netherlands and Turkey to co-chair a working group entitled the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL’s Foreign Terrorist Fighters.

“deter and confront an external threat to any GCC state’s territorial integrity that is inconsistent with the UN Charter.” That–now familiar— pledge is the same pledge that took the US and Allied Forces to war after 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq.

In terms of business the Dialog is encouraging greater US business activity in Kuwait and investments by Kuwait in the United States. In the field of education, numbers of exchange students are set to rise and further improvements are expected in the fields of technology and scientific research. To that effect, the US government extended an invitation to the Kuwaiti Minister of Education to visit the US and meet private sector organizations and institutions of higher education and research.

The US and Kuwait emphasized their pledge to continue bilateral efforts in countering violent extremism, moreover to improve cyber security, in the wake of growing anxiety over global hacking attacks. Security partnerships will be enhanced by a number of initiatives including more information sharing, ahead of Kuwait’s chairing of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENA-FATF) in 2017.

Kerry praised Kuwait for its efforts to resolve regional crises, voicing admiration of Kuwait’s leading humanitarian role worldwide, especially in the conflict-ravaged countries of Syria, Yemen and Iraq. He said Kuwait has played a great role to alleviate the humanitarian suffering of people in need.

Security and consular affairs were top of the agenda with both sides agreeing to work on closer cooperation on issues concerning customs and immigration, especially if a citizen were to be held or detained by the other country’s authorities. With political stability a major worry in the Gulf, discussions on terrorism were inevitable. The US commended Kuwait’s role in the war on terror worldwide, especially the operations

Seen as a longtime ally and defender of the Northern Gulf region, Secretary John Kerry reiterated the US’ commitment to maintaining Kuwait’s security and stability, and to defend it against any foreign threats. He underlined assurances from the US not just to Kuwait but also its Gulf neighbors to maintain the region’s security stating that “The United States is committed to Kuwait’s security, and to working with Kuwait to secure its homeland,” adding that the United States is prepared to work jointly with Kuwait and the GCC to

Building on the historic military partnerships between the US and Kuwait, the Dialog confirmed that defense partnerships are set to grow. “The two sides tasked their teams with designing a mutual strategy to implement specific measures to enhance this partnership, and committed to continue their coordination through the USKuwait Joint Military Committee,” the statement disclosed. All images of Secretary Kerry and Kuwait's First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah courtesy of The White House Press Office

11


BUSINESS

BREXIT: UPSIDE DOWNSIDE HAYDER TAWFIK Executive Vice President at Rasameel Structured Finance (RSF) in Kuwait, Hayder Tawfik holds a Diploma in Business Administration and Economics from Merton College, London. He has worked in London, Kuwait and Libya. Tawfik has over 35 years’ experience in the field of asset management and investment funds at leading global financial corporations, in which he has held senior management posts. He is a member of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) a financial regulatory body in the United Kingdom.

The European Union (EU) and its relationship with Great Britain is in flux. In June 2016, the government of the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, held a historic referendum asking the British people to vote on whether to stay or leave the EU. In a shock result the vote supported an exit from the EU. Despite warnings against leaving the EU issued by the UK Treasury, the Bank of England, the IMF, and the OECD, the pro-exit ‘Brexiteers’ declared they wanted independence from their erstwhile European trading partners. However, how exactly this independence would manifest itself politically, economically or in terms of trade and freedom of movement, had not been discussed, not even provisionally. Almost immediately the pound sterling fell in value against major currencies, it rebounded, but fell drastically again in mid-October 2016. Today the EU covers an area of 1.6 million square miles; since its inception in 1958 it has evolved as a single common market governed by a wide range of standardized

12

laws that apply to the region as a whole—a cause for many ongoing disputes between its incumbent and potential members. Indeed, since it joined the European Union in 1973, Britain has always been an active and often outspoken member of the EU and has occasionally ‘opted-out’ of some of its universal agreements. One example is the EU’s common currency. Britain is one EU member that did not adopt the Euro and continues to use pound sterling, a decision that as mentioned earlier, has brought dramatic consequences after Brexit. In October, one of the UK’s usually pro-Conservative newspapers, The Telegraph, reported “With the value of sterling tumbling to a 31-year low against the US dollar following the EU referendum, companies which import products, or pay for materials abroad, are now facing costs jumping by around a fifth”. Panic ensued as luxury fashion and food retailers assessed the impact. To compensate for foreign exchange losses, one big food manufacturer tried to force price hikes onto a

major UK supermarket chain, the supermarket refused and declared that it would no longer carry some of the UK’s most popular brands. British shoppers were outraged. Finally the dispute was resolved but the fear lingers on with the shaky pound and the news that UK borrowing costs have hit their highest levels since June. Brexit is—and perhaps will be for a long while ahead–one of the most confusing issues for the British people and for businesses. Even prior to Britain’s referendum, the mere possibility of an exit ignited heated debates among world leaders and economists, and tussles are reported even within the post-Brexit Cabinet. Britain’s former Prime Minister David Cameron, whose own voice initiated the vote and who had been a stalwart supporter of the ‘remain’ camp, is perhaps partly to blame for this confusion, at the same time the ‘leave’ camp, led by former London Mayor Boris Johnson, offered no clear post-exit strategy. The June referendum split the country in two: the ‘remain’ and the ‘leave’ camps.

To complicate matters, in Scotland, whose parliament operates independently of Westminster, the Scottish people voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, throwing more oil on the fire. Scotland’s First Minister is pushing for a repeat of the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, when Scotland voted against independence. Clearly Scottish politicians believe if this vote were to be overturned, it might allow Scotland to work with the EU, even if the rest of Britain did not. The European Union and the rest of the world now waits anxiously from Britain’s new Prime Minister Theresa May, to hear how and when exactly the British government will trigger its EU withdrawal.

will have to work out the exit terms, though the negotiation might go on much longer than expected. The next issue is how the rest of the world will be affected by UK leaving the EU and the impact of exit terms on trade, investments, foreign relationship, travels and movements of people. Plus, there is also the question of heady currency fluctuations. How is the UK’s exit from the EU relevant to the GCC countries and the rest of the Arab World? There are indeed major implications for GCC countries and their citizens. Firstly, we should consider the impact on the value of the British currency, the pound sterling, and how this impacts direct investments into the UK.

May has stated she expects this to happen in March 2017 but the longer she delays, the more confusion it creates and with it, comes more uncertainty, triggering more market volatility and more potential freefall in the currency.

Secondly, we need to understand the impact on GCC trade agreements with the UK and their relevance to the European Union. Once the UK leaves the EU, will most trade agreements with the rest of the world have to be revised, or rewritten? How long will this take?

Ultimately, the British government and the EU government in Brussels

On May 13 2016, the IMF published a report highlighting that a vote to

13


Pro-Brexit campaigner, Boris Johnson rallies supporters leave the EU would precipitate a “protracted period of heightened uncertainty, leading to financial market volatility and…[it would] hit… output". Sterling has already been devalued over 20% against the US dollar since the Brexit referendum. In October 2016, four months after Brexit was announced, traders saw a ‘flash crash’ when the pound fell as low as $1.1491, according to data from Thomson Reuters. The pound has been the weakest performer among the major currencies so far in 2016. While tourism in Britain may see an upturn as a result of the pound’s weakness, and overseas buyers considering real estate purchases will be especially buoyed by the pound’s fall, the question remains, does the weakness in the pound bode ill for the UK and GCC investors? Unlike other parts of the world, investments into the UK by Gulf countries go back a long time. It is the historical relationship between the UK and the GCC that has helped to cement trade and investments over the past decades. As investors from GCC countries are mostly interested in investing in the UK, rather than being motivated to access European markets, it makes sense that if sterling

14

A stormy road ahead for British PM, Theresa May

weakens further, GCC investments into the UK may begin to look much more attractive and actually offer an exceptional opportunity to purchase UK assets cheaply, therefore a depreciation of sterling could see a significant increase in the volume of investments into the UK.

investors is to be aware of greater investment opportunities in the UK, undoubtedly there will be risks too, currency fluctuations are just one of the factors that can have a major impact on investments. With Prime Minister May’s decision to start the ‘divorce’ proceedings in early spring, GCC investors should watch the process carefully and as with any investment, plan new investments in the UK cautiously. Taking a longterm viewpoint may work out for the better for everyone.

The second issue is the potential impact of Brexit upon the bilateral trading landscape between the GCC and the UK. I don’t see much impact on trade agreements between the UK and GCC countries as the EU has not yet concluded free trade agreements with all members of the GCC. In October 2015, the UAE and Britain set a new target for bilateral trade that would more than double its current value to £25 billion (Dh135.24bn) by 2020. It’s unlikely this kind of trade and investment agreement will be affected by the UK leaving the European Union. On the contrary, once the UK has finally left the EU, it will have a free hand in reaching a free trade and investments agreements with its counterparts in GCC countries and the rest of the world, of course, we may have to wait a while! Undoubtedly the debate about the impact of the UK leaving the EU will continue. The key issue for GCC

Silver linings for GCC property investors in the UK?

This report was originally written in October 2016 and was current at the time of writing. The views represented here are those of the author/s and as such do not in any way represent views of The Correspondent or its publisher.

15


BUSINESS

FATCA: IT’S NOT GOING AWAY! HILMI HAKIM Hilmi Hakim was born in Aleppo, Syria, and raised in Buffalo, New York from the age of one. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia and went on to gain credentials as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in 1997. With several years of accounting experience with large multinational accountancy firms, Hilmi was hired as Deputy General Manager of American Tax Bureau (ATB) in Kuwait in September 2014.

Taxation, especially for US citizens can be a daunting challenge. Many people may be under the illusion that since they were born in the US but left as a baby, hold a passport under a second nationality, and/or now have residence abroad they do not have to be concerned about tax compliance issues. In fact it is the opposite! Due to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) which was enacted by the US Congress in 2010 there are far-reaching rules about tax compliance and, despite protests, from all the evidence accumulated since 2010 from the government, FATCA is definitely here to stay. A good indicator is the fact that US courts recently dismissed two lawsuits seeking to repeal the act which mandates financial institutions located outside the USA to report all accounts held by US persons with a balance of $50,000 and above. In essence FATCA compels foreign financial institutions (FFIs) to report to the US Treasury Department any information about accounts held by US persons, or by foreign entities in which US persons have a substantial ownership interest. So who is affected? What is considered a ‘US person’? Any

16

one of the following are considered criteria that would compel the bank to report that customer to the US authorities.

• A US telephone number • A person who currently holds Power of Attorney (POA) for someone in the US

• US citizens by default are considered US persons. The facts that a US citizen holds another nationality does not change the fact that he/she is still a US citizen. • You are deemed a US person if you meet the ‘substantial presence test’. The substantial presence test is a day-count test, based on the number of days you are in the US over a three year period. Even non-US citizens can therefore be deemed US persons. • Finally, any person who has obtained a ‘green card’ is considered a US person. If a foreign financial institution has any reason to suspect the account holder conforms to the government’s criteria of a ‘US person’, they must report the account to the US Treasury Department.

Penalties are harsh, any financial institution shown to fail to comply to the rules would be forced out of the lucrative US market.

Any of the following indicators are sufficient for the FFI to report the individual account holder to the US authorities. • US residency • US as the place of birth • Use of a US mailing address including PO Box

According to a 2013 report by the Kuwait Times, one bank in Kuwait hired no less than 600 people for its FATCA compliance staff at a cost of $100 million. Clearly, FFI’s are not taking FATCA lightly - and clearly, nor should those citizens affected by it.

threatened “the privacy rights of United States Citizens who own foreign bank accounts, including American expats, by requiring banks to disclose private information of the account owner without any chance for the citizen to object, and without any suspicion of wrong doing by the citizen.” The plaintiff claimed FATCA infringes on the Tenth Amendment of the US Constitution and therefore is not

subject to the authority of the US Congress. [The Amendment expresses the principle of federalism by stating that the federal (central) government possesses only those powers delegated to it by the United States Constitution. All remaining powers are reserved for the states, or the people].

Furthermore, FATCA also requires account holders to report their accounts to the US Treasury department if the combined balance of all their non-US held accounts reaches $10,000. Any failure to comply by the individual account holder would likely result in the forfeiture of all funds maintained in that account. On August 6, 2015, a US citizen working abroad in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia filed a complaint seeking to repeal key aspects of the FATCA legislation which he claimed were unconstitutional. According to the plaintiff, FATCA

Sara Al Masri, Assistant Deputy General Manager

17


Furthermore, the plaintiff claimed FATCA is unlawful since it mandates foreign institutions to provide the financial information of US citizens and to report that information to the US government, which violates the Fourth Amendment - prohibition of an unlawful search. Nevertheless, the case concluded unfavorably for the plaintiff on April 7, 2016 when United States District Judge Jon Tigar dismissed the case, on the basis that the plaintiff could not prove he was directly harmed by the FATCA provisions. The element of harm or injury required that the plaintiff himself was injured. A more high profile lawsuit lodged in the Southern District of Ohio, sought to repeal several FATCA provisions on the basis of unconstitutionality, the case was headed by Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky and several US citizens living in foreign countries. The case pitched government against citizens. Those complaining against the measures adopted by FATCA asserted that harm was caused to US citizens living abroad when certain financial institutions refused to provide them with banking services on the basis that these banks did not wish to comply with burdensome

18

FATCA reporting requirements. The judge in the case ruled that “Discomfort with the information reporting requirements of FATCA does not establish the concrete, particularized harm that confers standing.” Furthermore, the court also ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to establish the injury was caused directly by the US Treasury Department. The court asserted that the third party (ie the bank refusing to comply) was the cause of any injury that was inflicted on the plaintiff by wrongly refusing to provide services. The court agreed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) view that Senator Paul lacked “Standing” in a foreign tax lawsuit. As a result, the case was dismissed on April 26, 2016. These two cases are just the latest in a string of failed attempts to advocate for a repeal or revision of FATCA. It is highly unlikely that any future court proceedings would bring about different results. Finally, those hoping that a new president may change or repeal FATCA should not hold their breath. Prior to the Presidential elections in November 2016 neither Presidential nominees Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump had given any indication that

they are willing to repeal the FATCA legislation. In fact when Presidentelect Trump, was asked about his stance on FATCA, he claimed he knew nothing about the subject and therefore, could not comment. In contrast, Clinton had spoken specifically about FATCA and had appeared well-briefed on the grievances raised by the anti-FATCA lobby. “I’ve heard loudly and clearly about the burdens that FATCA and other reporting places on Americans living abroad. I understand that this is an extremely important issue – and is creating disruptions in the basic, dayto-day lives of everyday Americans living abroad. I’ve heard that it can be harder to open a bank account, harder to save for retirement, and harder to get a mortgage. I share these concerns – Americans living abroad shouldn’t face excessive burdens in their lives.” That sounds quite encouraging, right? However since Hillary lost the election, her erstwhile pledge to be "committed to working with Americans living abroad and members of Congress to find the right solutions” means that it is Trump who has inherited the job of enforcing the FATCA legislation that came in

under Obama. How he will tackle the thorny subject remains to be seen. Earlier in 2016 in the wake of the “Panama Papers”, [where the names of companies and people who had set up offshore accounts in Panama, in an attempt to evade taxes were publicly revealed], the Obama administration took its aggressive anti-tax evasion stand to another level. A White House press release in May, 2016 had spelled out a series of additional measures that would extend the federal government’s already long reach. Clearly, under Obama the US establishment was demanding more laws, more enforcement and further tools to combat tax evasion and money laundering.

a portion of the essential funding, and therefore FATCA will be a useful mecanism to do this, but only time will tell. American Tax Bureau (ATB) employs a multilingual team of seasoned FATCA Professionals with over 22 years combined experience handling the most complex tax matters. All cases are treated in total confidence. ATB is registered with IRS as certified Enrolled Agents and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). The ATB team are also members of the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP) as well as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

atb_kuwait Head Office - Mazaya Tower, Building #2, Level 23, Khaled Bin Al Walid Street, Kuwait City Tel: (+965) 2226 6990 info@americantaxbureau.com Bahrain Financial Harbour - West Tower, Level 22, Office 2201 King Faisal Highway, Manama, Bahrain Tel: +(973) 1750 3112 http://www.bfharbour.com/

We must now await the installing of the Trump administration to know how exactly the new US President will regard FATCA. Some reports estimate that in 2016 the US government will collect about US$4.2 trillion in income and payroll taxes, of which federal, state and local income tax come to approximately $2.3 trillion. If Trump's promised surge in public spending eventualizes it seems reasonable to conclude that the IRS will need to provide the US government with

19


BUSINESS

BURGER BONANZA! From his unique position as head of Global Markets, Kuwait’s business intelligence and market research firm, Ali Boshehry explains and assesses the trends and trials facing Kuwait’s burger businesses. Kuwait’s food and beverage industry is a dominant force in a region where dining, catering and entertaining is a huge part of the culture. For many generations, life in Kuwait - like much of the Arab world - has traditionally been centered around hospitality, the food and refreshments we consume with our peers and our family. In emerging markets, like Kuwait, the food service industry usually goes through the same cycle as in developed markets. Fast food dominance arrives first, with ‘full service’ casual dining second. Other smaller and niche categories start appearing once the market has the disposable income to dine more frequently outside of their homes. Both Kuwait and the GCC in general witnessed the same development cycle when, since the 1980s, fast food chains dominated the food service industry, with a few upscale and casual dining restaurants in hotels ,until we started witnessing change in the early 2000s. Hamburgers were first introduced in Kuwait in 1981 when Kuwait Food Company (known as ‘Americana’) launched a branch of the popular American fast food restaurant, Hardee’s. The burger chain Wendy’s followed but didn’t find a foothold, it shut its operation soon after, however,

20

it is rumored to be re-entering the market soon after a hiatus of some thirty years! McDonald’s was launched in Kuwait in 1994, thirteen year after Hardee’s, with its first branch on Gulf Road. The entry of McDonald’s in Kuwait was part of the international expansion strategy of the fast food burger chains at that time in the region. McDonald’s had launched its first outlet in Saudi Arabia two years prior in 1992, and in the UAE in the same year as Kuwait, (1994). Burger King followed in McDonald’s steps by inaugurating its first GCC outlet in Saudi Arabia in 1993. The entry of Johnny Rockets in Kuwait in 1995 was the beginning of a new kind of burger outlet termed a ‘premium’ hamburger chain. Borrowing from the 50s dining concept it offered an ‘AllAmerican’ experience and menu: burger, fries and shakes, a concept hitherto unknown to the country. Johnny Rockets’ inaugural branch in Salmiya was the first to provide customers with this new and different hamburger experience, away from the fast food chain-style of eatery. Prior to that consumers in Kuwait mainly associated hamburgers with the global brands McDonald’s, Hardee’s, and Burger King.

For 15 years, hamburgers in Kuwait were either served in two kind of outlets: casual dining restaurants or fast food outlets. This lasted until 2010 when newcomer, Elevation Burger, with its organic food-based concept, laid the foundation stone for the ‘fast casual’ dining experience in Kuwait. Some locally-developed hamburger concepts launched before 2010, names such as Burger Boutique (opened 2005) followed by The Burger Hub (2006) and Slider Station a year later. These brands succeeded in stimulating the hamburger market in general and planted the seeds for future change. Despite the fact that these locally developed concepts were mainly in the casual dining category, their fresh take on hamburgers attracted early investors to the hamburger restaurant business such as TABCo and Alshaya. The early entry of small local brands into the industry did not go beyond a short-lived hype among youngsters, and in time they slowly disappeared. The reason for their demise lay in the false idea that they could simply turn a 100 square meter restaurant concept into a brand that lives with generations. The key to growth in the foodservice industry centers around three key areas: a clear definition

of a business concept, powered by strong operational management and social engagement. The opening of Elevation Burger in the Avenues in 2010 was a watershed, according to Ali Ashkanani, CEO of TABCo the operator of International, Elevation Burger in Kuwait. At the time Ashkanani had stated that “Organic food was not popular in Kuwait”. He added “People didn’t really seem to talk about it much. However, we took the bet that people are smarter than what the general market census might say”. It was the wake-up call for many investors; they realized the potential success of such concepts in Kuwait. Many international chains such as Shake Shack and FatBurger entered the Kuwaiti market shortly after and were able to take a considerable share from those that have been operating in the country since the 1990s. Looking back to 2014 the hamburger supply in Kuwait was taking the form of one of four concepts: ‘fast food’, ‘catering’, ‘casual dining’ and ‘fast casual’. This last niche category, ‘fast casual’, is a new breed of the ‘fast food’ category. This category offers fresh, often organic produce and meat from free-range suppliers, plus healthy food

21


GLOSSARY ALI BOSHEHRY Ali Boshehry is a Kuwaiti entrepreneur who launched his own company, Global Markets, in 2013. The company is specialized in market research and business intelligence. Ali’s past experience with international research companies has helped him introduce new research services in the region to help clients decide intelligently. His services and technology implementation are unique and considered transformational in the market research and business intelligence in the region. 

• Fast Food Restaurants are considered restaurants that feature limited and inexpensive menu options, minimum customer service, and rapid consumer turnaround • Full Service Restaurants feature the complete dining experience to customers in terms of menu structure and service. Full Service Restaurants are segmented into casual dining, upscale casual dining, and fine dining restaurants. The segmentation is based on menu variety, food ingredients, price, service, restaurant facilities and features. • Fast Casual Restaurants are those Fast Food outlets that offer fresh, organic produce, use free range meat suppliers and provide healthy food options that are hard to find in the fast food category. Menu pricing is more expensive than in fast food outlets due to the better quality ingredients. 

options which are hard to find in the fast food category. Menu pricing is more expensive than in fast food outlets due to the better quality ingredients.

v

The clear positioning of, in effect, a ‘new’ fast casual category in the market means consumers from the full service ‘casual dining’ and the ‘fast food’ categories are transforming their dining habits to include the fast casual options. This recalibration negatively impacted the performance of casual dining and fast food categories. Fast casual hamburger chains are not like other food service trends that popped into the market and died quickly, such as the shortlived frozen yogurt and cupcake stores. Primarily, hamburgers are not seasonal meals to be affected by the long months of summer or few cold months of winter in Kuwait. The burger can be consumed multiple times weekly because they are prepared rapidly, priced reasonably, and are considered by some, as a fully-fledged meal. In addition, the hamburger as a food item is not an alien concept to the culture. Consumers in Kuwait are

22

well exposed to the international food scene. Most Kuwaitis love traveling overseas and have done so for many decades so the hamburger culture is deeply embedded in their overseas dining experiences–which makes the burger easily acceptable to consumers of all ages. Such strong association and acceptance of the burger as a food item makes consumers consider this particular food option at least three times a week. In 1994, 15,000 Kuwaitis formed an 11 kilometer drivethrough line at the opening of the first McDonald’s in Kuwait. Though this phenomenon was repeated when frozen yogurt launched in Kuwait it was in much smaller numbers. In time, the queues at stores selling frozen yogurt and latterly cupcakes, got shorter and shorter mainly because the products were derived from bigger and already extant food concepts, such as ice cream parlors and sweets and bakery shops, so they did not maintain longterm appeal.

Today, the hamburger trend is now a full grown category of food item and is here to stay. Despite the fact that the general perception is that the market is saturated here in Kuwait, in truth, the number of international brands have increased by 37% and the number of outlets increased by 36% in 2015. Exclusive on-site market research conducted by Global Markets shows there are currently around eleven brands of international burger chains in Kuwait with more than 40 branches. These generate more than KD15M worth of sales annually, just under the ‘fast casual’ hamburger category alone. The fast casual burger market is driven by three main players, Elevation Burger, Shake Shack, and Classic Burger Joint. Elevation Burger and Shake Shack are rapidly increasing their branch count mainly in large shopping malls, F&B complexes, and cooperatives.

Classic Burger Joint on the other hand is opening small locations in retail strips and residential buildings due to their reliance on home delivery more than dine-in customers. The three brands are competing headto-head with brands outside their category such as McDonald’s and Burger King. The rapid transformation witnessed in this new category has also resulted in a market correction which has led to the closure of branches – and in some cases, entire chains. BurgerFuel exited the Kuwait market in 2015 when it closed its two outlets. Additionally, Global Markets registered the closure of 6 outlets of different brands in 2014 alone. Investors who already invested in this new category and those looking to invest should study the existing competition and beyond anything, employ and understand research-based strategies to ensure the success of their investments.

23


Solid social media presence accompanied by strong social responsibility activities play a major role in establishing brands as friendly day-to-day companions rather than a destination

Three elements that currently differentiate the successful fast casual brands are: menu prices, geographic branch allocation, and brand social engagement. The fast casual category is characterized by offering affordable quality food with a fast food–style theme. Pushing prices into the casual dining price range while offering limited customer service and smaller food portions will push customers to seek other alternatives. The geographic placing of a dining outlet is another factor that is hugely misread in the market. For some reason, franchise owners in the fast casual category enjoy competing with each other door to door. The Avenues for example features six outlets shoulder-to-shoulder and Divonne complex in Abu Al Hasania features three outlets. Such high concentration of the same food service category will result in oversupply of the same product to the same consumer demographic. For example, SmashBurger closed its branch in The Village in July of 2015 after experiencing strong burger competition from its neighboring Divonne Complex which featured three burger concepts. Owners should scout and position themselves outside the traditional food and beverage areas such as Salmiya, Hawally, Kuwait City, and Mahboula. There are also new residential areas outside the old commercial parameters that need to be considered.

24

Social engagement is another critical factor to increase consumer retention in the long term which is something needed for a young category. Solid social media presence accompanied by strong social responsibility activities play a major role in establishing brands as friendly day-to-day companions rather than a destination. Given the decline in oil prices and weaker consumer confidence in the economy, one would expect the market would compensate by showing a less dynamic year in 2016. Global Markets found this not to be true when it comes to burgers. Alghanim Industries is probably launching the Wendy’s brand in Kuwait soon after acquiring its franchise rights for the MENA region. Five Guys launched in the country in an office tower in Sharq and a few other locations are in the pipeline. BurgerFi, a burger brand from Atlanta, says it plans to launch within 2016 in the Arabella beachside dining complex in Salwa, not forgetting the existing fast casual players which are expanding geographically in regions that are outside of their comfort zone, such as Jahra and Sabah Al Ahmad Marina City. Of course these new brand introductions and expansions of existing brands are not left unchallenged by burger behemoths, McDonald’s and Burger King. McDonald’s launched its kitchen tour program to showcase their food preparation quality to counter the health claims raised over the years.

They also launched a “Create Your Taste” campaign enabling customers to customize their burger ingredients to flirt with the fast casual customers. McDonald’s is pushing the envelope to catch up with the fast casual train; so far, that push did not result in improved revenues, in fact the opposite. As per Global Market’s research, the brand’s revenue is estimated to be declining by not less than 10% annually. The decline would have been greater if it was not for the introduction of the McDelivery service. McDelivery is contributing an estimated average of 20% of the stores’ total revenue. The end result is that fast casual is here to stay and the many brands operating in the market have to think outside the box and develop ways to outsmart their competitors in terms of acquiring new customers and sustaining their existing consumer. The fast food giants who have been operating in the country have the financial muscle to expand but they are too big to respond to market changes quickly. The new fast casual players are small and are more agile but do not have the deep pockets of the fast food operators. Let’s see who wins, commercial agility or cash? This piece is an update of a report that originally appeared in Kuwait Times.

25


BUSINESS

RECIPE FOR SUCCESS The restaurant business in Kuwait boasts innumerable international cuisines, however until now there are few upscale venues serving Kuwaiti food. Those venues that do serve Kuwaiti cuisine are usually modest affairs, simple canteens with no menus, or small outdoor diners such as those in Souk Al Mubarakiya. Opened just a year ago, Dar Hamad saw an opportunity, the restaurant would take local cuisine to the next level: fine dining at international prices—but it was not without huge risk. Indeed some cynics might have sneered that the local clientele would baulk at paying upscale restaurant prices for what their staff could cook at home. But a combination of unique factors gave Dar Hamad an edge. Today diners are hard-pressed to get a reservation without booking in advance, moreover the restaurant is busy from breakfast to supper.

Dar Hamad opened its doors in Salmiya in late 2015 and took a leap into a hitherto unexplored territory, serving homecooked classic Kuwaiti dishes in a fine dining venue. Its success was instant and reservations are now mandatory. Charlotte Shalgosky goes to find out the secret of its appeal. 26

It must have seemed like a huge gamble to the Hamad family whose 1960s former home has now been transformed into the classy eatery by the creative whimsy of Kuwaiti designer, Jassim Alsaddah. Alsaddah, owner of Babnimnim design studio has decorated the white-washed interiors with chandeliers inspired by igal (part of the Gulf

Arab's traditional headwear), and ornamental fish traps. The entire space is crowned with a coronet of vertical wooden struts, sometimes seen in old homes, all reflecting items from Kuwait lifestyle. The walls carry spectacular artworks by a number of contemporary Kuwaiti artists represented by a Kuwait art gallery, there are also unique installation works from local studio Bécarre. Everywhere there is a wonderful balance between the Kuwait of old and Kuwait today. The décor is without doubt a major drawcard: Dar Hamad’s exterior façade and giant studded front door draw inspiration from the design of the old wood and brass dowry boxes known as ‘Sandoog Mubayyat’. This theme is followed through into a side room, where the chefs make an array of Arabic sweets daily. The original house was located directly on the beach, until land reclamation in Salmiya created the Gulf Road. Dar Hamad was well known for its family gatherings and celebrations. Today the house celebrates gatherings of a different sort, with clientele comprising of extended families, elegant groups of ladies and upper class couples. They bring life to the light-filled main hall as they dine on dishes that have

27


mini fatayer. Portions are perfectly placed for those who like to dine on dainty snacks. The main courses are much bigger and feature all the classic Kuwaiti dishes, from unmissable machboos, the Gulf’s aromatic answer to biryani, to hearty stews and seafood, all served on the table in beaten copper pots that would have adorned family tables long ago. The menu also includes simple dishes that were at their height in the 1970s such as macaroni – which has turned out to be a show-stopper Even the crockery is unique. The black and white porcelain dinner service, specially designed for the restaurant, offers the diner a painted image, and a riddle, written in the local dialect on the plate. (The riddle

and answers are in English on the back of the plate). The person behind this culinary innovation is Chef Sadiqa, a bubbly Kuwaiti woman who has a relentless passion for cooking. Her desserts especially, are all concocted using combinations of classic Kuwaiti flavors: cardamom, saffron or rahash (soft nougatine); these are blended with chocolate, rose petals and transformed into delicate cakes, puddings or sauces. Though Chef Sadiqa trained at Cordon Bleu, a bastion of French cuisine, her love for home cooking keeps her Gallic passions in check; she manages to maintain the integrity of her Kuwaiti dishes, even when she adds what she terms a ‘twist’ to the traditional recipe. Those ‘twists’

been inspired by some of Kuwait’s most simple, and adored recipes. Upstairs, the elegant stick-back chairs, banquettes and pretty modern printed cushions bring to mind Scandinavia. The second floor lounge has at its center a podium showing men’s embroidered caps; this delicate display is overseen by a wall of beautiful art books and vintage objects. All in all, it is extremely well considered. But it is of course Dar Hamad’s menu that has underscored its true success. Dar Hamad excels at combining Kuwait’s comfort food of yesteryear with today’s internationalized palette. The menu strikes a good balance. Drinks include simple pleasures like warm saffron milk, served from a long-spouted, black metal teapot; milk tea (‘chai khaleeb’) as well as the more up-to-date juices, shakes, coffees and tisanes. The popular breakfast menu includes Kuwait classics such as vegetable patties; sweet vermicelli with saffron; aromatic cooked liver laying on a bed of unleavened bread, and old favorites like shredded eggs and

28

29


Dar Hamad saw an opportunity, the restaurant would take local cuisine to the next level

give Dar Hamad its unique flair. Ultimately, Dar Hamad’s tour de force was not just the bringing together the best of Kuwaiti food with superb local art and interior design, but the way the restaurant works managerially. Seamless operations actually come courtesy of its outsourced management. It is here that Dar Hamad really shows a stroke of genius. Rather than hiring a new team and training them for months, the restaurant capitalized on one the nation’s best known and best trained food and beverage experts; in effect implanting a ready-made, well-trained work force that could function cohesively from the outset. Dar Hamad’s core attraction lies in its universally enjoyable appeal; it

30

is much more than a dining venue, it is an experience. For important visitors, dignitaries and those people who want to entertain their guests in an elegant setting Dar Hamad provides that missing place. It also has given the older generation of Kuwaiti ladies a place to gather for ‘chai al sabah’ morning tea; groups of women linger through the morning chatting and nibbling. Dar Hamad is a one-off, it has created a hybrid that has cleverly avoided the clichéd, cookie-cutter fine dining motifs and struck out on its own. It has clearly paid off. The restaurant can rightly claim to represent the best of Kuwait, in every sense, but much more than that, the diners can sense that, unlike anywhere else, it has a true heart and soul.

All images courtesy of Dar Hamad

31


EDUCATION

LESSONS IN LIFE Manchester-born educator and philanthropist, Rhoda Muhmood has dedicated her life to working tirelessly in education. As Director of the Kuwait English School (KES) she is known for her quiet humility and selfless generosity. In November she received an MBE from HM Queen Elizabeth II. The Correspondent invited her to share her observations and life experiences. lessons that life teaches us on a daily basis, (whether we are conscious of it or not)! Our job is to embrace these lessons and help others to do the same. We also need to realize that the concept of ‘failure’ is really a marvelous chance to learn.

As I reflect on the many experiences in my bountiful life and I evaluate my own attitudes to education, not just as an educator, nor as a long serving Director of an international school in Kuwait but as a mother of four grown sons, all my thoughts seem to have been summarized into one powerful quote by the former British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill who said: “One must not look upon education as something which ends with one’s youth. It is the key to many doors; doors both of knowledge and wisdom”. Churchill was right; my own education did not end with my youth. Every day I spend in our school brings with it new learning experiences and this applies equally to me! I now find myself to be one of the most mature ‘students of life’ and I

32

continue to learn...When it comes to the role of education in our lives, everyone holds their own respective views—there are no absolutes; no single ‘right’ opinion. During my student days, in the course of one of many interesting and stimulating lectures, I remember we were invited to give our opinion on what we considered to be the prime purpose of education. It was a controversial debate with a number of diverse opinions put forward. The session concluded with the professor stating that “the main purpose of education is to equip people to make decisions”. Now after five decades in the field, I would add to the professor’s statement to say that I feel those “decisions” we end up making should ideally, be well-informed and wise. ‘Wisdom’ is of course, not a course taught at school or University as far as I know; it is the culmination of

Each day at our international school here in the heart of Salwa, we see some 2,400 students of no less than 64 nationalities convene on our campus. We are a veritable global community and as such, we are indeed fortunate that the founder Chairman of Kuwait English School, Mr. Mohammed Al Saddah, who is a former Kuwaiti Ambassador, continues to take a keen interest in all affairs of the school; moreover, he still relentlessly champions and supports its development. My daily routine involves working alongside a dedicated team of educationalists and administrators—a fair number of whom hold leadership or management roles, which engage them in the planning, running and delivery of a plethora of subjects and experiences that prepare young people not just for class, nor their end of term exams, but life itself. These young people benefit from a diverse curricula carefully designed to equip them for the present AND the future beyond school. HH Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, former President of the UAE, once said: “Wealth is not money, unless wealth is used in conjunction with knowledge to plan for its use…

The greatest use that can be made of wealth is to invest it in creating generations of educated and trained people HH Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Late Amir of Abu Dhabi and former President of the UAE unless there are enlightened intellects to direct it, its fate is to diminish and to disappear. The greatest use that can be made of wealth is to invest it in creating generations of educated and trained people”. I believe this wholeheartedly. From the very beginning of our time on earth, life invites us to be learners. How rapidly a new-born baby innately learns that a cry or a whimper will immediately call the mother’s attention to provide nourishment. It is with never-ending amazement that I observe how a young life develops. Only a few weeks after its birth the baby already recognizes us, and we are rewarded with a smile. Life and education are so closely entwined and interconnected from youth to old age, and at every stage we have the capacity to continue that learning process. For those lucky enough to study in the developed world, undoubtedly, the most significant change of this era witnessed in the field of education has been the introduction, use and development of new technology. We remain in the throes of an ongoing digital revolution which continues to rapidly advance. In October 2015, Kuwait English School became the first school in Kuwait to introduce ‘Chromebooks’, a

The School Chairman, Mr. Mohammed Jassim Al Saddah, Mr. and Mrs. Muhmood the start of the KES journey 1979 sophisticated but user-friendly learning device which compliments traditional learning techniques and prepares young people for the heady new frontiers in IT that await them. Most large schools like ours have a Director of Technology whose prime responsibility is to ensure that digital learning continues to be progressive and used wisely, and who can monitor new developments in this field. Moreover, in consultation with other IT educationalists, he or she can make decisions which best serve the interest of the students. But we are not all lucky enough to enjoy the rich rewards of education. Let us not forget those people for whom life continues to be a great ongoing struggle and those children who are not able to access education. These young people are losing out on the most essential tool for life...they are the ‘have-nots’ of our world and we should all share some responsibility to help them wherever there are appropriate channels. Here in Kuwait, great generosity is already extended by the Kuwait government to a good number of poorer countries to assist them in their development; there are too, many unsung heroes and heroines

among these less well-off communities, individuals who voluntarily dedicate their time, energy and expertise to assist those less fortunate in getting on in the world. Education is a golden key to life, it unlocks doors of opportunities, allowing people to escape from poverty and liberates them from ignorance, which otherwise allows others to abuse and enslave them. Education is rich world to which we should all belong, a world that is exciting, uplifting and never-ending. For me personally, it is a world that has brought me—and still brings me—infinite pleasures, one to which I feel I owe so much.

33


EDUCATION

“Ask not what the nation has done for you, but what you have done for the nation” rallied US President John. F. Kennedy in his famous inaugural speech in 1961. Half a century earlier on another continent, the well-traveled Indian philosopher Vivekananda made a similar pronouncement: “Give me a hundred youths and I will change the world.” To Kennedy and Vivekananda - just two inspirational voices of the late nineteenth and twentieth century, a nation’s youth were seen as the powerhouse of the country. These two leaders believed that the youth of their respective nations could not only make outstanding achievements while still young, but they could also bring about social changes without being reliant on government hand-outs or financial support. Self-motivation was the key.

YOUTH EMPOWERMENT Award-winning speaker and social activist, P. Justin Antony tells of the innumerable achievements by young people that can, with our help, empower young people to empower themselves. 34

P. JUSTIN ANTONY P. Justin Antony is an Indian social activist who speaks on empowerment and pover ty alleviation. He champions the rights of the young and underprivileged such as the overlooked fishing communities of India. Antony has been influential in many aspects of social improvement in Asia and beyond.

Despite these clarion calls years ago, it seems that today the younger generation are not aware of these historic words - even less the meaning carried by ‘self-motivation’. Are we seeing the kind of youth that Kennedy or Vivekananda dreamed of? Our teenage years are a treasured part of life. It is the period when we can make tremendous achievements - some of which may even be remembered by the entire world. Our youth is a great time for entrepreneurs and creative spirits to take risks by ‘thinking big’ and following their dreams. In business, we have seen countless examples: Steve Jobs was twenty-one when he co-founded what became American tech’ behemoth Apple. Mark Zuckerberg was nineteen

when he created Facebook - by the time he was in his early twenties he was a billionaire, by twenty-nine he was already worth US$28.5 billion. Then there are well known high achievers in sports such as the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. Bolt, dubbed the world’s fastest man, was just twenty-one when he first broke the 100m world record and has since repeated this victory in no less than three Olympic Games. Boxer, Mike Tyson was only twenty years old when he became the youngest ever heavyweight boxing champion. These examples just show us how young people, when they apply themselves to a task, can have an edge over the rest. However, at the same time, we tend to forget these ‘stars’ were all born as ordinary human beings, and while the methods they adopted to get to the top are definitely different, all achievements take hard work, yet these amazing achievements can inspire the youth of today. Take the example of Pakistani education activist Malala Yousufzai, who aged eleven started a diarized blog on the BBC advocating the right to education for girls in her home region of the Swat Valley. Girls here had been banned from attending school by the Talaban. Malala suffered an assassination attempt as a result while just a teenager. Now, thankfully recovered, she has won the hearts of the world for her fearless promotion of girls’ schooling. In October 2014, together with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, she was named a Nobel Peace Prize winner at the age of just seventeen.

35


One child; one teacher; one book and one pen can change the world potential, knowledge and talents during this golden period. If only they can learn from the experiences of role models how to make best use of their energy and their knowledge for constructive purposes.

Accepting the award, Malala reaffirmed that “This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change.” Malala’s message crystallized into one sentence, “one child; one teacher; one book and one pen can change the world.” Here is a teenage woman who turned a near-tragic incident into a fearless battle. In China, Zhan Haite was an ambitious school student who in 2012 became a national cause célèbre, making a stand against the country’s archaic residence registration system, known in Chinese as ‘hukou’. The system ties hundreds of people to their rural hometowns, preventing them from moving freely. If they move away from their registered hometown they lose all basic freedoms, including access to wide-reaching and beneficial state support such as free education and subsidized medical services. Although Zhan attended primary and secondary school in Shanghai where she had moved with her family

36

in 2002, she did not have hukou or residency in the megalopolis. This therefore precluded her from taking the city’s high school entrance examination. Zhan was told she had two options: attend a vocational school, or return to her home village where opportunities were scarce. Instead, Zhan decided to speak out. In a nation where protests are not allowed by law, she courageously organized a protest in front of Shanghai’s education bureau; additionally, she posted a flurry of dissenting messages online. At first, the backlash from the government authorities was, not surprisingly, severe, the regime saw her as a threat and in retribution, her family was briefly evicted and local authorities threw her father in jail. Yet very luckily Zhan’s message was well-timed, hukou reform had recently risen to the top of the national agenda and state-run media outlets began to take notice. Zhan was allowed to pen a piece for the national English-language daily paper, China Daily, which the media ran under the headline ‘Teen

Girl Makes Case for Change’. It shows that for every fighter there is often a price to be paid, but with perseverance and self-motivation, the battle can be won. Her success echoed an age-old proverb: Where there is a will there is way. In Kuwait there are plenty of role models from all paths of life: former Speaker of the National Assembly the late Jassem Al-Kharafi, climber and explorer Zed Al Refai, Shaikha Al-Zain Al–Sabah, Dr. Laila M. Saleh and Reem M. Alghanim, to name just a few. This summer how many of Kuwait’s young people were inspired see sharp-shooter Fehaid Al Deehani win gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics? More importantly, how many will go on to borrow his success to take themselves to a new level?

In the past, before the advent of technology teenagers were busy with sports or youth clubs, hobbies, boy or girl scouts, or extra-curricular and weekend activities, where their boundless energy could be harnessed to do useful activities, such as undertake volunteer community work. The youth of today seem to spend their valuable time glued to screens, blindly following meaningless paths with little or no benefit to their intellectual or spiritual core. Young people need to be helped to realize that time flies; while they have

It is true that there are of course motivated youths working tirelessly to support their communities through many national and international youth leadership programs. One of the largest and longest running youth conferences is at the United Nations in New York. The Youth Assembly is a unique platform which fosters dialog and generates partnerships between exceptional youth, UN officials and staff, the private sector, and civil society. The 2016 Summer Youth Assembly focused on

empowering youth leaders and young professionals in the implementation of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki–moon described The Youth Assembly as “An important mechanism of the United Nations. Not only does it give young people a chance to be included…it also brings new perspectives to the General Assembly, thereby enriching its work”. Through the adoption of sound ethics, I am confident we can encourage the younger generation to work towards better performance and strive to reach greater heights. Let us hope that, we in Kuwait, as part of our global duty to society, can produce the self-motivated youth that Kennedy and Vivekananda dreamt of.

Today our youth have more distractions than ever, but these often come passively through virtual interactivity, with no real-life human engagement. If our youth can only connect virtually via a screen, they will not learn the life skills they require for lifelong social interactivity. It is a painful truth that many youngsters fail to realize their

time and energy, they should push themselves farther, to go beyond their dreams to achieve the hitherto unachievable. Only after they grow up do young people realize the myriad opportunities that were lost during their youth.

Malala Yousufzai

We need young people to be driven by self-motivation and core values, youths who can focus on building a better quality of life for themselves and others; a life driven by personal awareness and a continual quest for knowledge and humanitarian ideals, an empowered youth who still believe they really can change the world.

37


PAWS FOR THOUGHT

Interactivity with animals can bring extraordinary benefits. A non-profit animal welfare organization in Kuwait brings together young children to read to animals at a unique Book Club. Lynne Davis learns more.

In 1976 the respected British Medical Journal, discussed the benefits of pet ownership commenting that "within the family, the animal provides opportunities for projection and displacement of feelings as well as for direct expression of concern and care, of anxiety and fear; and for testing out capacities for power, authority and influence within the family context.” Today in the US, UK and Australia pets are recognized as playing a major part in the treatment and care of young and old including patients, especially those with mental or psychiatric challenges. Being around loving animals brings a host of benefits. One life that was changed by a pet is that of a young autistic child called Iris. Iris could not speak due had an extreme form of autism. Her family were recommended to introduce a Maine Coon cat, called Thula and monitor the results. Thula changed Iris’ life, becoming her inseparable playmate. She led the little girl to start speaking. Today, they are an internet sensation; videos show them playing, painting, cycling and even swimming together! In Kuwait, animal welfare is not as advanced as in countries such as the

38

USA and UK, however a dedicated band of volunteers has nonetheless been working tirelessly for years to educate and enlighten the community on protecting and promoting the welfare of God’s creatures; a virtue extolled in the teachings of Islam. Protecting Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) Kuwait is an all-volunteer, non-profit group run by professionals. Their motto “Helping Animals, Helping People” says it all: not only does PAWS rescue injured, abused or abandoned animals and rehome them with caring families, they organize activities that allow interactivity between animals and children in the form of the monthly PAWS Book Club (PBC) held at Dar Al Athar Al Islamiyyah at the Amricani near Seif Waterfront. Here children read to animals as a form of quiet entertainment–a therapy that works two-ways. In the first such program in the Middle East, the PBC in Kuwait has shown remarkable results. The animals, all of which live in the PAWS’ shelter, urgently need re-homing; they crave one-on-one human interactivity, so the attention they get from the children reading offers a soothing comfort, albeit temporarily. Not just educators, but parents attending

these sessions say the benefits for children are clear: stress levels are usually lowered because the creatures provide a completely non-judgmental audience along with comfort and unconditional love. For children with ‘Special Needs’ this environment brings immense and tangible results. “When children read aloud to dogs and cats there is a marked improvement in their oral reading performance” says Claudia Farkas Al Rashoud, Vice-Chairperson and a tireless PAWS volunteer. “We have seen children who are otherwise agitated or anti-social, become totally calm as they concentrate on reading. We can even see antisocial habits change as children become calm enough to engage with others—sometime we learn from parents that it is the first time their child has ever interacted with other children. Kids who normally stutter suddenly lose their speech impediment and read fluently”. All thanks to the magical connection with these homeless animals. PAWS’ educational programs range from nursery school level through to university level and include many community groups and even palliative care homes. Claudia adds “When PAWS Book Club went to Bayt Abdullah Children’s Hospice,

Claudia Farkas Al Rashoud and her faithful feline, Angus [a Kuwait hospice caring for the terminally ill] some very special bonds developed between young patients and the animals. Animals know when humans are unwell or upset, they often instinctively try to offer them comfort.” The PAWS' volunteer program helps Kuwait’s youth not just learn how to care for pets but also how to run an organization, face challenges and function as a cohesive group. Working with animals teaches young people many positive values including responsibility, kindness, compassion, empathy and respect for all living beings. In fact Islam strongly encourages Muslims to treat animals respectfully and PAWS supports practices and reinforces Islamic ethics, partnering with TIES Center and the Kuwait Society for Cultural Dialog. PAWS also works around-theclock to combat cruel and illegal practices such as dog fighting, the unlicensed trade in animals, and the inhumane and dangerously unhygienic conditions of unlicensed pet markets such as Kuwait’s Friday Market. Currently there are many stray animals being poisoned in a bid to keep numbers down, it is an inhumane and illegal practice; education therefore plays a large

part in their animal welfare programs and PAWS hopes to raise funds to run a sterilization program that can reduce the spread of disease and infection among strays.

It is ironic that creatures who offer us all so much comfort and joy and from whose love and loyalty we can clearly benefit should be abandoned, abused or left to die.

All this hard work of course, comes at a cost. With emergency surgeries and innoculations, veterinary fees have amounted to thousands of dinar. Without funds PAWS cannot sustain its work and its vital role in society.

PAWS’ motto of “Helping Animals; Helping People” underscores its commitment to bring about benefits to society through its volunteer work including PAWS Book Club.

PAWS receives no official funding relying purely on donations, the efforts of volunteers, and personal funding from their small team who organize fundraising events. But it is never enough. It urgently it seeks sponsors and partnerships that will enable it to be self-sustaining. Especially welcome are donations of quality pet food, litter and litter trays, kitten milk, clean blankets, animal beds and pet toys. Volunteers can assist at PAWS’ events or at the shelter in Wafra. This is especially needed in summer when human and financial resources are most strained. With Kuwait’s transient expat society, many animals are abandoned by irresponsible pet owners. PAWS is inundated with animal emergencies and without PAWS many pets would die a terrible death.

By helping PAWS, we are in fact helping society, whether by giving an animal a chance for a loving home, bringing comfort to the elderly or helping special needs children find newfound friends. If you wish to adopt a forever pet, donate, volunteer or support PAWS please contact:

paws_kuwait paws.adoption (+965) 51392925 PAWSKUWAITOFFICIAL officialpawskuwait@gmail.com

39


HEALTH

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED Psychological disorders contribute to 14% of global diseases worldwide. Dr. Juliet Dinkha speaks about the challenges working in the Middle East and how to identify mental health problems early. and focus on building a family. This can create problems, and did so especially for me, because I was an over-achiever with an independent mind who had other priorities, like building a career for myself. That daily struggle with identity, self-esteem etc. sparked an interest in mental health issues. It was the start of a long career that has helped me become who I am today.

TCM: Please give us an overview of your practice in Kuwait, your training and how you became interested in mental health issues? JD: I set up my practice here in Kuwait almost 12 years ago after completing my education in the US. Initially I moved to Kuwait as a professor of Psychology at the American University of Kuwait (AUK), but I quickly realized that opening a clinic would help me reach out to more people. At the clinic I provide a wide range of services, some of them deal with child and adolescent problems,

40

anxiety disorders, such as obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We also offer couples’ therapy, family therapy and help people overcome issues such as depression, identity, adjustment, as well as problems that specifically affect women. I got interested in psychology growing up. Having a Middle East background and living within a traditional, conservative family in the US came with big challenges. In these households the standard attitude is that a woman’s first priority when she graduates is to get married

TCM: How common are mental health issues in society; what are the key challenges in identifying and treating them - especially in the context of Middle Eastern culture? JD: Mental health issues are more common than people think, however, they are more difficult to identify due to a lack of awareness of mental health issues here in Middle Eastern culture. Going to a psychologist or having mental health concerns are still considered a taboo subject. Compared to when I started, there is a degree of improvement as people are becoming more aware of this subject. The hardest step is getting patients into the door and having them admit that they actually have a problem. It’s also a challenge getting them to understand that there is no magic pill to fix their problems, it takes hard work and dedication to work

through issues and make changes in their lives. But the rewards are amazing. TCM: What are the most common problems you have witnessed in your practice, if untreated what kind of outcomes can emerge? JD: Something I see all the time are people prone to stress and anxiety disorders such as OCD, or who have developed irrational fears (phobias). Kuwait is an Islamic country and families are, to an extent conservative in their outlooks, there are many traditions to adhere to, such as family honor, and therefore high expectations are put on each member of the society. That constant reminder and daily worry of whether you have done what is expected of you can make you nervous. If you don’t work through it, the worry can actually take over your life, which makes it extremely difficult to be productive. I also see a lot of patients who are clinically depressed, some have symptoms that are mild and others, severe; if not treated these patients can be harmful to themselves or cause harm to others. Incredibly 120 million people globally suffer from depression, in most countries it is nowadays recognized as a very debilitating disease.

TCM: Your work includes helping those who have undergone trauma: please give us a brief summary of the main types of trauma that you have dealt with, and what services your practice provides to those affected by these debilitating circumstances. JD: Everyone will go through a lifechanging event or shock, at one time or other in their lives; it may be the loss of someone dear; a physical attack; a terrible accident, or witnessing a horrific experience, such as war. I see a lot of patients who are suffering from PTSD due to domestic violence, violent assaults or in some cases serious road accidents. We can try to reduce their fears and anxieties, move them slowly away from their debilitating mindset and, with time, improve their quality of life. My practice assists patients suffering from PTSD by providing cognitive therapy (CT). CT helps them to understand and change how they think about the trauma that they have undergone, and its aftermath. It can reduce feelings of stress and reduce the repeated nightmares that often are associated with PTSD. We also provide services like stress management and behavior modification which are extremely beneficial for victims suffering from PTSD. Furthermore, I also have the

41


Helping children cope with depression is one of Dr. Dinkha's roles privilege of working with US veterans who have served in various wars and have suffered traumatic events while in active service. You will be surprised to know, over 25 years on, there are still people suffering from PTSD. It is just one aftermath of the Gulf War. Although it might seem like a long time ago, some servicemen and women have not been helped to work through the trauma that they experienced. TCM: How can we monitor and assess the mental health of our youth today? What symptoms should we be aware of that something may be out of balance? JD: When it comes to assessing mental health, there isn’t one specific sign that there is a problem. It usually depends on the nature of the child, the severity and duration of a problem and the observation skills of those around the child to notice if something has changed.

such as complaining of constant physical pain for no reason, constant sadness or crying, neglect of personal hygiene or increased aggression. Sometimes we see people becoming excessively suspicious of others, or seeing/hearing things that others don’t. If you notice more than three of these signs, it’s usually a red flag that something abnormal is happening and immediate action should be taken so the person can be given support to get through these challenges. It’s also important to remember these symptoms also exist in adults.

Clinic Address: PI, 6th floor, Sayed Ali Tower Off Baghdad Street, Block 7, Area 9, Salmiya. Tel: (+965) 67716194 (+965) 60683837 dr.jdinkha drjdinkha@yahoo.com

Usually major signs include a decrease in time usually spent enjoying friends and family, lower levels of performance at school, or even refusing to attend school, noticeable issues with memory, as well as major changes in energy levels, eating habits or sleeping patterns. There are also symptoms

42

43


SPOTLIGHT

WITNESS TO CHANGE Abdulaziz Al-Anjeri meets Ayad Abdul Mohsen Al-Thuwainy, Vice Chairman of Kuwait’s construction behemoth Ahmadiah and learns the secrets to the company’s longevity.

44

45


We believe that the fact our family business is still growing— and is now being run by members of the third generation—is mainly due to our adherence to some fundamental principles: respecting family values, sound ethics and good governance Vice Chairman Ayad Abdul Mohsen Al-Thuwainy

Faisal Al-Thuwainy is part of the Ahmadiah family dynasty In relative terms, the construction industry in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region is expected to grow faster in 2016 than in any other region worldwide, with an estimated growth of 5.9%. The rate is slightly lower than in previous years due to the decline in global oil prices, which has negatively impacted public investment plans and spending on the region’s all-important energy sector, posing challenges to the oil sector globally. Despite this economic uncertainty Kuwait’s Ahmadiah Contracting and Trading Company [“Ahmadiah”] continues to grow and is now a household name in Kuwait’s burgeoning construction sector. Established in Kuwait over six decades ago by the Al-Thuwainy and Najjar families, like many businesses the company grew as the nation developed and prospered. Led by the third generation of the company’s founding fathers, Ahmadiah shows no sign of slowing, on the contrary, it is adapting new technologies to stay ahead of the curve, and is one of the companies responsible for changing the skyline of modern Kuwait.

46

TCM: What challenges did Ahmadiah’s ‘founding fathers’ face in the 50s? AAT: Ahmadiah was established in 1954 by two intrepid entrepreneurs, Mr. Abdul Latif Al-Thuwainy and Mr. Najib Najjar. During the 50s and 60s Kuwait was, at the time, a developing nation, using its newfound oil resources to invest in infrastructural projects for its growing population, therefore Ahmadiah initially worked on government projects. Ahmadiah saw a period of expansion together with— and as part of—the development of Kuwait. At the same time there were of course, challenges. It was hard to set up, let alone manage a company, not only as a family-run business, but especially a construction company. However these obstacles were surmounted since the two partners complemented each other perfectly: one brought sound business skills; the other brought essential technical knowledge. TCM: Family businesses in the GCC typically last three generations before they are sold off, yet Ahmadiah does not appear to be part of this trend, how does your family-run business function in Kuwait? AAT: While selling off family-owned companies after three generations may be partly true for some, it is

not altogether true in all family-run businesses. As far as Ahmadiah is concerned, we believe that the fact our family business is still growing– and is now being run by members of the third generation—is mainly due to our adherence to some fundamental principles: respecting family values, sound ethics and good governance. At the same time we invest in enriching the skill sets of our top management and this, in due course, enhances our company’s overall professionalism. I should add that, while a large part of our top-tier management are, and operate as, an integral and inseparable part of the Ahmadiah family, in fact they are not members of the ‘Al-Thuwainy’ nor the ‘Najjar’ family. TCM: What are the greatest changes or challenges you and your predecessors have seen in your industry over the last six decades? AAT: Throughout our six decades working in the construction sector, we have encountered enormous changes in the industry, both in the fields of design and in construction techniques and technological advancements. When we started our business, design was the job of the engineers, and all the drawings were done by hand. Nowadays, a substantial part of the design work

47


We need to draw to the attention of the Kuwaiti youth the growing need for construction in Kuwait, and therefore the need for construction specialists, such as engineers and architects is computerized. Not only are we in the era of AutoCAD, but we are also in the era of BIM (Building Information Management) which is integrated into our work flow, where we create a 3D model of the project that covers every tiny detail that goes into the construction. In parallel, the construction techniques have also evolved at an astonishing pace, however, these changes are not considered as ‘challenges’ for us. Technological advancements are, on the contrary, valuable tools that help enhance and facilitate any entrepreneur’s work. The only challenge facing the contractor is therefore one of adaptation, for the contractor to swiftly transition to the latest technologies and new working methodologies.

TCM: What are the main challenges facing the construction industry today? Do these same challenges have any impact internationally? AAT: The main challenge facing the construction industry nowadays is the drop in oil prices and the uncertainty surrounding the industry. During such crises governments rethink their spending strategies and as budgets diminish, they enforce spending cuts, thus decreasing the number of government-funded construction projects. In addition, with the turmoil affecting some neighboring countries here in the Middle East, several new contractors have entered the Kuwait market, making the competition much fiercer than it would be under normal circumstances, further exacerbating the situation. On an international level, the global slowdown in the economy has certainly affected all

Archive image courtesy of Ahmadiah

48

sectors, including the international construction sector. TCM: How important is the outsourcing of specialist consultants from overseas? In time, will-or can—these roles be taken by Kuwaitis? AAT: Construction projects in both the public and private sector tend to be much larger and more sophisticated than they used to be. Ahmadiah employs the expertise of international firms in very specialized and complex projects such as airports, causeways, mega-hospitals, etc. who work in collaboration with Kuwaiti consultants. Overseas consultants bring specified industry knowledge which is complemented by the knowledge of the local workforce. Kuwaiti consultants, whether individuals or companies, are gaining a lot of expertise through working in partnership with international experts, eventually this valuable cross-exposure will certainly enable them to take the lead on tasks currently handled by overseas consultants. TCM: What can be done to encourage a new generation of Kuwaiti talent to enter the construction industry? AAT: We need to draw the attention of the Kuwaiti youth to the growing need for construction in Kuwait, and therefore, construction specialists, such as engineers and architects; we should promote this so Kuwaiti youth are encouraged to enter the industry. Not only should we highlight the necessity of homegrown talent in the construction field, we also need to show them the benefits that this field could offer.

Al Hamra Tower ©Hedrich Blessing courtesy of SOM

49


TCM: What is the future of the public sector construction industry in Kuwait and how sensitive is it to political change? AAT: Kuwait has always been a stable country with stable politics so we do not regard ‘political change’ in the area as an influencing factor in our business. Although the nation’s economy has been through some ups and downs, this is the case everywhere; Kuwait has had a stable economy for the last century and we are confident that this will continue for the coming years. As for the public sector, it could be affected by the drop in oil price as we explained earlier. However, public sector expenditure on infrastructure has not been drastically affected as projects are needed to cater to the country’s growing needs. In addition, the new Kuwaiti law on foreign investment is encouraging the building of factories, hospitals etc., so this should give an additional push to the sector.

Which projects in the last decade do you feel encapsulate the true ‘spirit’ of Ahmadiah? What are your aspirations for the company in the next decade? AAT: We have built all types of structures: skyscrapers, commercial centers, roads and industrial projects, we are immensely proud of all these achievements, irrespective of the type, size and complexity of the project. During these last few years we have also undertaken projects that have themselves become landmarks of Kuwait, so we highly value them for their contribution to both the community and the country. It is exceptionally hard to pick just one project above all others, however, we were extremely honored to have played a part in the construction of Bayan Palace. The construction of any royal palace is very special because you are not just constructing a ‘building’ as such, but a national monument that will become part of your country’s history, seen by the Amir as well as Kings, Queens and visiting Heads of State.

In terms of the last decade though, Al Hamra tower in Kuwait City was one project that broke boundaries. It is where the combination of cutting-edge construction techniques together with our local and global expertise allowed us to produce a building that was unique and revolutionary, both in terms of its aesthetics and its construction. This project put Kuwait on the architectural ‘world map’ after it won first prize in the American Concrete Institute’s Awards for “Excellence in Concrete” in 2015. As for the future, we always aim for perfection; by doing so, we make a commitment to our clients to provide even better quality service and products. We also aspire to continually evolve the company in order to meet the—much more– complex challenges that lie ahead.

Finally, the concept of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) has already been successfully initiated here in Kuwait, this will open doors to many opportunities for greater international partnerships in countless Kuwaiti public projects.

A spirit of collaboration in the office

50

TCM: In the Gulf politics and business are usually intertwined, however the Al-Thuwainy family manages to stay clear of politics, how does this position affect your business? AAT: As you rightfully state, we do not get involved in politics; Ahmadiah has a long history of neutrality so we are not affected. We have found success from working to the best of our abilities: in the private sector we see many ‘repeat clients’ who value the quality of our work; in the public sector we go through tenders like all other construction firms, but it is our wealth of experience that brings substantial added value to any client.

Archive image of Bayan Palace, courtesy of Ahmadiah

51


CONSTRUCTION

RUNNING PACE Tarek H. Shuaib heads PACE, a multi-disciplinary architectural firm working across the Gulf. He speaks to Charlotte Shalgosky about PACE's rise from a family-run Kuwaiti company to a regional player.

TCM: Please give a brief overview of how Pace has evolved in Kuwait. TS: Pace was founded by my father and his partners in 1968 when they realized the need in Kuwait for architectural and engineering firms to be part of the nation’s development and economic growth. Pace started on small projects, ranging from residential to small-scale municipal structures, such as the Ministry of Social Affairs building and petrol [gas] stations. From there Pace has grown to where we are now. We consider our company to be a very client-driven, quality-oriented ‘team’ that works collaboratively on projects from day one. We believe our clients won’t get a well coordinated, well-constructed building or the most efficient design if the different disciplines work separately. Today, we are fortunate to work primarily in architecture. Being an architect myself, we are perhaps the only large firm in Kuwait that is architecturally-led—by that, I mean we work on buildings that accommodate the human experience; some examples of this are the Kuwait University Administration Facilities building at the new Shadadiya campus in association with the renowned SOM, or our work reviving iconic public projects, such as the Kuwait National Museum, that help tell the cultural history of Kuwait. [Completed in 1986, Kuwait National Museum was originally designed by renowned French architect Michel Ecochard]. TCM: Pace is known in the industry as a 'multi-disciplinary' firm. What does this actually mean and what advantages does this bring? TS: Basically we deliver a ‘one-stopshop’ to our clients; this includes supervisory services. In Kuwait and the region as a whole, you do not see many architectural firms with their own in-house specialized skills. Putting a building together brings together many different factors, the architect, who is designing how the spaces work within the envelope of

52

We consider our company as a very client-driven, quality-oriented, ‘team’ that works collaboratively on projects from day one.

Avenues ©Hedrich Blessing courtesy of PACE

the building, is just one. The building must stand up structurally and then you have to incorporate what is termed HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning). You need to ensure the building is structurally sound and that all the required technical specifications are met. These are just some of the main disciplines that determine a building. For the few highly specialized skills that we do not have in-house, we outsource these from international experts; for a theater we would for example bring in specialist lighting or acoustic experts. This is essentially what is meant by Pace being a ‘multidisciplinary’ firm.

as the Jaber Al-Ahmad City—with a wide variety of vital services to address Kuwait’s needs. We provide much needed housing, as well as new and upgraded road networks. Our work on roads was an eye-opening and educational experience. Kuwait had a pioneering road program before the [1990] invasion and the US Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) was an active and integral part of the Ministry of Public Works. After the Iraqi invasion there were a lot of delays so upgrading the road network did not really get started until the mid-2000s and sadly, due to this hiatus the State lost a lot of expertise.

TCM: Apart from architecture, what infrastructural projects is Pace working on? TS: Pace has been involved in providing Kuwait’s new towns–such

TCM: What are Pace's most important ongoing projects in Kuwait? TS: We are part of the continued development of the Avenues.

53


Pace started on small projects, ranging from residential to small-scale municipal structures, such as the Ministry of Social Affairs building and petrol stations.

[Kuwait’s leading mega mall]. We have worked with the owners Mabanee, since 2005 from Phase I onwards. We did not work on the design for Phase I but took over the supervision and construction management and have stayed on as the project evolved. It is because of our involvement with the Avenues that we are also now considered regional experts on retail projects. We have been invited to tender for other projects by other blue-chip real estate investors as we are able to give local expertise with regards to efficiency, rental sizes and other issues. Another project we are very proud of at the moment is the new Jahra hospital which will be the largest hospital in Kuwait and the fastest to be delivered. Through the Avenues and the Jahra hospital we learnt a lot about delivering ‘fast-track’ projects. A lot of clients look at examples of accelerated development in countries like China and expect the same here; we have had to come up with ways to provide this. Ultimately, we need cooperative clients, whether private or governmental, who are ready to push with us and be fully engaged. TCM: How much does Kuwait’s vernacular architecture

54

consciously influence design at Pace? Can any local architectural influences be seen in your work in Kuwait? TS: A lot of the buildings designed by Pace evolve naturally as a reaction to the environment. A few years ago I would have said we were not incorporating vernacular design consciously, it was more a case of being sub-consciously filtered into work through instinct; an accepted ‘logic’ within. Then, when discussing design with international architects you become more cognizant of certain things that you thought was global and realize it is inspired by local building styles! If you look at the Arab Organization Headquarters (AOH) building it is actually a typical courtyard building with deep punched windows, heavily protected from the hot sun and looking to the north. While being a modern office building, it does contain deliberate stylization of some local, traditional building techniques, which are part and parcel of Kuwait’s historical architecture. On a visit to Kuwait, Robert Ivy, Chief Executive Officer of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), commented that he felt Kuwait’s vernacular architecture had become diluted with the shiny

Pace's Kuwait University design incorporates traditional mashrabiya building syndrome of Dubai. He asserted that it was important for us to go back to the early reaction of architecture to the environment and make more sustainable buildings that are at the same time congruous with our identity. In our design for Kuwait University’s Administrative building we have taken classic Arabic latticework screens called mashrabiyas, [used in the region since the Middle Ages] and placed them on the outside of the structure in a contemporary way. They are beautifully designed by a Kuwaiti calligrapher who graduated from Central Saint Martin’s, the UK’s top art college. This is how local tradition can be updated but remain, as in Ivy’s words, ‘congruous with our identity’.

TCM: From where does Pace’s innovation come? TS: Innovation happens all around us on a daily basis both at a microand macro- level, whether through discussions between team members sharing their experiences or, most often, when we encounter problems prompting us to come up with new solutions. We continually challenge ourselves, engage with new, young, talented architects and engineers, and we interact with other architects and firms outside of our own circle. Innovation can also happen simply through new technology. An example is the Grasshopper3D software we use. It has been used in the western world for a few years. We are now actively working on creating 3D designs where hitherto, we would have produced line drawings. We are rolling this out across the firm but it is a challenge to get people to think

and design not just the architecture, but the air-conditioning and electrical aspects of a building in 3D. This innovation should bring about huge savings as we will be able to standardize items and have a lot of vital information upfront, before any concrete is poured, resulting in our clients getting a better return on their investment. TCM: What is the best lesson your father taught you? TS: To be honest, when discussing technicalities and architecture, we had our differences, but the best advice that I got from him was ‘patience, patience, patience’ with both people and things. Perseverance is the key.

All imagery courtesy of Pace

55


CONSTRUCTION

A E D I L L S A S E M C S C U S G I B Jon Kodi comes from a construction family. For almost forty years his family were involved in the building boom that put the popular American resort town of Palm Springs on the map. Following in his family’s footsteps, Jon Kodi joined the construction industry and, at just 21, found himself to be one of the youngest General Contractors in California. Today, he is still innovating the industry, It is that experience that led him to come up with a simple solution to an age-old problem on construction sites. Jon Kodi created the Kodi Klip® and by doing so, changed the lives of US construction workers for the better. This is his story.

I was working with my crew on the construction of a shop, the conditions were miserable. As I watched my crew struggle with rebar tying, I remember thinking, there has to be an easier way to do this! I decided that if there was ever going to be a better way to secure rebar together, I was going to have to invent it myself. The global construction industry relies on long steel reinforcing bars, (also known as reinforcing steel) or ‘rebar’ to strengthen concrete internally. The problem was, how to secure hundreds of mats of steel rebar quickly, tightly and safely. Securing Rebar with wire ties has been the accepted method for more than a century, and has always been a time-consuming process that injured workers, created construction bottlenecks, and produced unstable

56

and inconsistent rebar connections. Generation after generation of inventors had tried to replace the outdated method but none of the solutions worked. I had tried them all. The automated rebar ‘tying gun’ saved a little time but didn’t adequately address worker injury, and certainly not the problem of what we term ‘form’ stability. In addition, the rebar tying gun was temperamental and expensive. Another company came out with a plastic clip but that broke easily, it had to be applied by hand and was easily pushed out of place during the pouring of concrete onto the rebar mats. None of the new inventions seemed capable of withstanding the demands of real life construction, nor did they address any of the most pressing issues contractors faced. I realized that if I wanted a solution, I would have to invent it myself. With

decades of experience on engineering projects and a deep familiarity with structural issues, I started tinkering. It all started with some PVC pipe from a high street vendor but the initial design didn’t work. My goal was to create a clip that would eliminate the need for workers to reach under the rebar because that’s where a lot of the cuts and scrapes happen. I tried again. My first prototypes were fashioned out of nylon, then, working with a local plastic injection molding company, I developed a custom mold and then began testing materials until I found a material with the right memory and rigidity.

up their award. The guys with ten years’ experience are slightly bent over and walking a little slower. The guys who have been 15-20 years in the rebar-tying business limp up to the stage all hunched over and can’t straighten up from a lifetime bending over to do this work. The union leader was genuinely grieved for his members. Hand tying rebar increases the chance of a serious injury like carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as other injuries such as cuts and abrasions and infections. Hand tying rebar results in serious wear and tear on the body. Using our system prevents wrist

The next step was the development of the application tool. After a few failures I bought a nail gun-style tool and took it apart. I designed all the internal functions and then a track to fit the clips. It was crude but it worked. The Kodi Klip® System was born; it was everything I’d hoped it would be: user-friendly, reduced on-site injury and risk–and saved money! A local machine shop built five working prototypes and testing began. Construction company leaders and pre-cast manufacturers tested the new system, and the enthusiasm grew. The response to the concept has been overwhelming. Business owners and managers aren’t the only fans. Many have been excited about the availability of this new system including employees and the labor union leaders who represent them. There are many advantages over the traditional wire tying methods. The Kodi Klip® is non-corrosive and will not promote rust at all and will never dissolve at the connection as happens when using wire. One union steward was telling me about how painful it was to see the physical changes in these guys attending his company’s annual service anniversary award presentations. The job is literally backbreaking. At five years, these guys are still healthy and they’re standing upright as they pick

spends less on workers’ compensation claims and lost productivity while the employee gets back to work earlier and keeps getting his full paycheck. While industry excitement has been high, some detractors still seem attached to rebar tie wire because the per-unit cost is less and that’s the way they’ve always done it. But when you consider the hidden costs of connecting rebar the old ways, like lower and lost productivity, workers’ compensation premiums, and high turnover and training, not to mention the potential to increase revenue because work gets done faster—the Kodi Klip® System costs far less overall. Using the Kodi Klip® Rebar Fastening System is like having your carpenters use nail guns while competitors use hammers. It puts you at a distinct advantage in terms of speed, safety and cost efficiency.

fatigue and cuts from wire tying, eliminates burns and flash injuries from welding rebar, and reduces back injuries from bending. This means accident rates drop, morale improves and productivity soars! The industry has been a great supporter of the invention. The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers has endorsed the Kodi Klip® System as the official tool of the trade for rebar fastening. Our method results in far fewer injuries. If someone does suffer a lower back injury no matter what the reason, you can get him back to work much faster because he can use an extension handle on the application tool and work without bending or stooping. It’s a win-win situation. The employer

Success of the invention is evident. The Kodi Klip® is used in some of the largest pre-cast companies in the USA and in some nuclear facilities, oil refineries and structural projects. We have also been voted the Construction Industry’s ‘Most Innovative Product of 2015 as well as winning the coveted Most Innovative Product (“MIP”) Editor’s Choice Award in the Concrete Construction Equipment & Tools Category at the World of Concrete Exhibition last year. We’ve worked hard over the past few years to bring a positive change to an industry that has been antiquated for too long, allowing worker injuries and higher insurance premiums. It is an honor to know that this invention has received the industry’s most recognized honor for cutting edge products in the USA and at the same time, we are protecting the lifelong health and welfare of millions of people who work in construction. What a great feeling that brings!

57


TOURISM

LOCAL ATTRACTION Nabila Al-Anjeri has spent decades channeling her energies into the hospitality and tourism industry. She speaks frankly to Charlotte Shalgosky about her commitment to improving Kuwait’s tourism sector and the valuable opportunities she feels may be lost through inaction. TCM: Please introduce yourself in terms of your career and experience working in the tourism sector here? NAJ: I have worked in a variety of sectors for over 30 years, tourism has been one of the key areas of focus. From 2002-2006, I worked as Assistant Undersecretary for Tourism, in the Ministry of Information where I formulated the Kuwait Tourism Master Plan under the guidance of World Tourism Organization and the United Nations Development Plan. Furthermore, I also held the position of Public Relations and Marketing Manager for Touristic Enterprises Company from 1993-2002. Following this, I became an Advisor on tourism projects to the Chairman of the Grand Real Estate Co. in Kuwait and, in 2008, General Manager of the Al Jazeera Real Estate Company, the owning company of the Sahara Golf and Country Club here in Kuwait. My other accolades also include being the General Manager of Hunting and Equestrian Club from 1998-1999. Currently, I also serve as a Board Member in Kuwait Airways.

58

Since 2007, I have established my own company by the name of Leaders Group for Consulting & Development, which is specialized in providing tourism consultancy, business development, exhibitions and conferences and media services. Leaders Group collaborates with many prestigious organizations, such as the United Nations World Tourism Organization. We provide an Annual Tourism Report to the Kuwait government. Our other achievements also include the establishment of the Economic Forum of Gulf Women I & II, The Tourism and Development Conference, countless workshops and of course, our flagship event HORECA Kuwait. TCM: With neighboring states in the GCC investing heavily in developing their tourism infrastructure, what is the current status of touristic development in Kuwait, and what are the main obstacles facing Kuwait’s tourism development? NAJ: Compared to the other GCC countries which are emerging as major players in tourism, Kuwait is

completely neglecting the opportunity tourism can provide to its economy, which has been hit drastically due to the massive fall in oil prices. It is ranked last in GCC in terms of touristic development. The current status of touristic development in Kuwait too is not so promising. There have been certain projects such as the Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Center, which is aimed as a venue for world-class events and conferences, but other than that, the response to open the door for tourism is pretty abominable. If you see the statistics, Kuwait is the country most dependent on oil (93%), ahead of its neighboring countries; it is the country with a high ratio of SMEs – yet none are in tourism. There are many obstacles Kuwait’s tourism development is facing. As per my knowledge, the first one is the lack of diversification initiative from the government. The Kuwaiti government is completely dependent on oil and, as we are witnessing

59


Nabila Al-Anjeri now, the oil prices are very low, compared to when oil was at its peak some years ago. Now, due to these crises, the government is facing a huge deficit in this fiscal year. Had we diversified into other fields such as tourism, we would have not faced such a situation. The second thing is the lack of budget allocation to the tourism sector. Most government-spending is related to the oil and gas sector. We have seen the country invest in many new oil fields, but we haven’t seen our government spend any amount on developing the tourism sector. For example, Kuwait has many natural islands that could be explored as possible tourist sites, but again, we are unable to do so due to the lack of budget allocation by the government. The third thing is the lack of proper infrastructure facilities in Kuwait. We have one of the least popular airports in the world. The current airport is unable to handle the excessive passenger numbers it faces during peak times. Sound investment in infrastructure can be one of the best ways to attract tourists in the country. The government has initiated a plan to build a good airport and new

60

causeways, which can be a positive step towards boosting tourism traffic in Kuwait, but it should be followed through promptly. The fourth thing I believe hampering development in tourism is the lack of legislation, which is an obstacle to the development of Kuwait. It is important to provide solid legislative frameworks covering all requirements from licensing to regulating touristic sites and resorts. This would provide an element of security to those dealing with the sector whether capital holders or employees. I should add that without a proper system to connect and coordinate between government entities, cooperation is impossible. Lastly, the government does not foster the development of tourism projects, however, when we have a large portion of companies in Kuwait in the small and medium category, these can provide a bedrock of support to new projects. Even if only a few projects are implemented by the government in the private sector, it could boost the economy of Kuwait greatly and moreover, create jobs.

TCM: What recommendations should be made to the government and the private sector to remedy this situation?   NAA: My recommendations to the government would be to insist that it includes tourism as an integral part of the Kuwaiti GDP. As we can see in the graph published in 2013, Kuwait is one of the Gulf nations spending the least on tourism and, not surprisingly, also the country with one of the lowest incomes from tourism. At the moment, only the oil sector is seen as the main contributor to Kuwait GDP, if we incorporate tourism into it as well, the economy of Kuwait will improve and it will pave the way for many opportunities, like the increase in employment rate of the country. The government also needs to create more tourism projects. The country has recently seen the development of 4 new cultural centres, which is a great start. These cultural centres can be used for the creation of world-class events and conferences, which the country has been lacking until now. More projects like these will give Kuwait better visibility in the tourism sector, particularly as one of our major challenges is to create an

actual ‘identity’ for the nation in terms of its tourism. We have many nationalities visiting Kuwait, but most of these visits are usually work- related. However, as long as there is a desire to come to Kuwait, we should explore ways to market its many attractions. We have some very beautiful offshore islands, the careful and sustainable development of these areas could offer tourists a unique attraction without destroying their natural riches. Kuwait should pay more attention to its many historical and cultural sites, as well as thinking about multi-cultural centers that could play an important role educationally for Kuwait’s youth as much as for the visitor seeking to know more about this nation’s rich and historic past. Visa restrictions to visit Kuwait should be eased. The government has enabled 34 nationalities to receive their entry visa on arrival, which is a great step to increase tourism traffic in Kuwait, but even more can be done to surmount these obstacles. The government should promote Kuwait as a touristic destination worldwide.

Kuwait's retail sector can benefit from tourism

61


Tourism potential has yet to be realized in Kuwait We should not just be known as an oil country, but also as a country with leisure facilities like its beaches, resorts and restaurants, all of which are vital to visitors. The government really must consider creating an independent tourism authority, like dozens of other nations. There are tens of touristic projects that have been carefully studied and delayed today because of routine requirements and bureaucracy, as well as because of lack of firm decision-making. An independent authority will ensure a swift decision is made in the best of interests of the tourism sector. I also believe that the government should optimize its strategic location as a gateway to the Middle East, and its proximity to a large number of destinations, where tourists can consider it as a transit point. Even Kuwait’s most remote destinations can be attractive to those seeking solitude, and adventure tourists for whom a desert expedition is something to celebrate. Kuwait is now facing an increasing problem of unemployment of the citizens. Opening the gates of the tourism will be a great solution to this problem.

62

The private external investment of Kuwait is US$37billion and US$7billion have been contributed to invest in tourism abroad. If these investments can be redirected to the home country, then it will surely benefit Kuwait greatly in this ignored sector. As far as the private sector is concerned, it will play the most important role in the development

of Kuwait as a touristic destination. The government has allocated KD2billion of funds for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). It will be a great underutilization of funds if it were not used for the purpose of developing tourism sector in Kuwait. I also believe it is in the hands of the private sector to build more resorts and entertainment facilities that can attract the tourists regionally and internationally. These private sectors

2013 figures spent on tourism by GCC countries in US$ billions 800 700 600 500 400 300 200

Mrs. Al-Anjeri has worked with countless dignitaries must also take initiatives to promote Kuwait as a touristic destination and make optimum utilization of public holidays such as the contiguous National and Independence Days known as ‘Hala February’, and the big annual celebrations of Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha. TCM: What are the key benefits of tourism in terms of Kuwait’s international profile, and what would a developed tourism sector (including hotels, aviation and touristic sites/activities) offer Kuwait and Kuwaitis locally? NAJ: There are countless benefits of opening doors to tourism in the country. As I said earlier, the first thing will be a boost to the dwindling economy this country is facing. Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry and we have seen neighboring countries taking advantage of this sector to become a touristic and diversified countries, rather than an oil-dependent country. If they can, why can’t we?

100 0

UAE

Saudi

Tourism spending

Kuwait Income from tourism

Qatar GDP

Kuwaiti citizens spend the most per capita when they travel. An average Kuwaiti spends four times the amount of an average European citizen abroad. A developed tourism

sector can encourage Kuwaitis to spend in Kuwait itself, which will again boost our economy. Apart from the 1990-1991 Gulf War or as an oil nation, sadly Kuwait is not known for much else! It is relatively unheard of elsewhere. A proper profiling of Kuwait showcasing its abundant facilities from restaurants to hotels, beaches and resorts will improve its international profile and promote an increase in tourism to Kuwait.

Along with these professionals many top personalities and dignitaries attend, which gives even more excitement to the events. There are many competitions, culinary art shows and exhibitors, which the visitors enjoy immensely. Since the popularity of HORECA has grown annually, we will be organizing the 2017 HORECA event at the Kuwait International Fair, so as to allow more people to attend.

TCM: HORECA - please explain the history and concept behind this successful annual hospitality venture? NAJ: HORECA is a combined term for Hotels (HO), Restaurants (RE) and Cafés (CA). With our fruitful partnership with Hospitality Services Company, we have organized HORECA Kuwait since 2012. Currently in its sixth year it will be held from 16th to 18th January 2017. This is the largest hospitality event in Kuwait. Some of the biggest players in the hospitality sector take part and it is attended by top professionals and businessmen who have both a direct and indirect interest in the hospitality industry.

63


INTERVIEW

STAMP OF APPROVAL Dr. Essa Dashti is a prolific Kuwaiti writer, philatelist, curator and historian. He specializes in books on members of the British Royal family and historical links between Britain and Kuwait. He talks to Charlotte Shalgosky about his unique interests. TCM: You are a passionate historian. Where does this passion come from? And what books have you produced in the last years? EYD: I have loved books since I was six years old, thanks to my parents who taught me how to read and encouraged me to read widely. I remember that every year my parents took me to the annual book exhibition in Kuwait and spent hours with me there, helping me choose books to buy. From that time I have loved books. I’m particularly fond of books on history and ancient legends; they have taught me to be curious. I always turn to books to know more and love how books impart knowledge, in turn this feeds my passion to read more about history! My first book (on philately) was awarded ten silver medals by the International Philatelic Federation but I have since published a good number of books, mostly on the British royal family. In particular, I have written on HM Queen Elizabeth II, her Diamond Jubilee as well as visits by her and other members of the British Royal family to Kuwait. I also won a

64

regional award in Jeddah this summer for my book on the commemorative postage stamps, issued in 1948,for the silver wedding of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Most recently I published my eighth book about the visit of HRH The Princess Anne, Princess Royal, to Kuwait. TCM: You curated a superb exhibition on Her Majesty's Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation memorabilia at Dickson House. What does the British Royal family mean to you? EYD: The British Royal family means a lot to me: they signify strength, commitment, doing one’s duty to the fullest, respect, appreciation, being of service to society and love of one’s country. In short, they signify the best in everything to their people and to me. When I learnt that Queen Victoria’s birthday fell on the same date as mine, May 24th, I started to read more about the British Royal family and to follow the news about them. I was eager to know more about Queen Victoria’s life and reign. ‬ ‫‫‬If

Dr. Essa Dashti has produced a range of books on Kuwait history you ask me, the British people are lucky to have a royal family like this, and we Kuwaitis are lucky to have a special relationship between Kuwait and the British royal family.‬‬‬‬‬ TCM: As a Kuwaiti, please tell us more about the relationship between Britain and Kuwait. Why is it that Kuwaitis feel that connection with the UK? EYD: Our friendship with Britain is very strong, it goes back a long time and is rather special; it is characterized by great love, appreciation and respect. This relationship is based on much more than simply politics, military relations or trade. Historically, Britain has always supported and stood with Kuwait

and its people through thick and thin. In virtually every Kuwaiti home, you will find that one or more members of the household have visited the UK, or studied there or gone there for medical treatment. Some even live in the UK. Our relationship shows the meaning of enduring friendship. TCM: Please tell us more about the Captain Shakespear project? EYD: Captain William Shakespear was an explorer and British Political Agent in Kuwait who died in a battle in 1915 in today's Saudi Arabia. Working with the British Embassy, Kuwait, the National Council for Culture, Art and Letters, and under the auspices of Kuwait Capital of Islamic Culture, I have produced a book. It shows many of the pictures I amassed for the exhibition. These were reproductions

65


of the photographs that Shakespear himself took of Kuwait and as well as documents about him.

some splendid examples of the old waterfront in Kuwait near the Seif Palace.

Captain Shakespear was a remarkable man, he spoke many languages including Arabic and Farsi. Near Kuwait City in central Sharq district, I found a simple memorial dedicated to him in an old disused graveyard for non-Kuwaitis.

Shakespear had been interested in all types of marine vessels and his black and white pictures showed a wide variety of sailing craft from Kuwait's past. We are hoping that these unique images might one day be used as postage stamps, commemorating Kuwait's maritime history and the profound respect that Shakespear had for Kuwait.

In spring 2016, friends, colleagues and representatives of the British Embassy, including the British Ambassador HE Mr. Mathew Lodge gathered to pay respects and lay memorial wreaths of red poppies, one of which had been sent all the way from Captain Shakespear's old school in the UK. During my research, I found among Captain Shakespear's photographs

In April 2016 representatives of the British Embassy, including the British Ambassador HE Mr. Mathew Lodge, gathered in Kuwait to commemorate the death of former Political Agent, Captain W. H. I. Shakespear who died 101 years ago.

66

Shakespear is credited with many accomplishments, he was a mapmaker, expert falconer and hunter, and skilled diplomat. Indeed he befriended the Saud family who would become the ruling family in Saudi Arabia, long before the arrival of the better known T. E. Lawrence, known as "Lawrence of Arabia".

For more information on Dr. Essa Dashti's books and exhibitions please contact: What's App 6608 6656

67


CULTURE

SECRETS IN THE SAND

After a six year, painstaking project undertaken by the UK’s prestigious Durham University and Kuwait National Museum, British archeologist Dr. Andrew Blair explains how evidence unearthed in Kuwait’s northern desert region points to settlements and trade links founded 1,200 years ago.

Kuwait National Museum and Durham University archeologists, led by Dr. Derek Kennet, working on the 1200 year-old site.

68

At first glance it appears as if the northern coastline of Kuwait Bay has always been a sleepy, isolated place. Even the development that has transformed Kuwait City from a mud-walled desert outpost to a skyline of modern skyscrapers seems to have passed this particular area by. A flat and at times, marshy landscape, it is at least an hour’s hard drive north from the residential and commercial centers; a barren area where tents and camels still outnumber both houses and residents, where electricity pylons and oil pipelines count among the few outliers of modernity and

the only international visitors of note are migratory flamingos, who arrive briefly in winter. Isolated and uninhabited, it would seem that little has ever happened here. However, appearances are often deceiving; Kuwait’s desert tells an untold story. It was sporadic finds of an old coin here, or a fragment of pottery there, that guided archeologists to this part of Kuwait. The trail eventually led them to discover, hidden under the desert, the remains of a series of small settlements dotted along the northern coastline of Kuwait Bay. Outside of academic circles, few

people know of their existence. Evidence unearthed on these sites indicates that around 1,200 years ago, during what archeologists call the Early Islamic period, this now silent stretch of coastline was home to several thriving villages. For more than a millennium all trace of these communities remained invisible, buried beneath the sand. Now, thanks to the dedicated archeologists from Kuwait National Museum, considerable proof of these longforgotten people has been brought to light.

69


Map of the ancient settlements in Kuwait Physical evidence of these past communities survives in the structural foundations of their homes; their belongings, ranging from simple grind stones used to prepare flour for bread to fragments of vibrantly colored turquoise-glazed pottery and glass vessels; even traces of their diet, as attested by the scattered piles of discarded marine shells. My colleagues and I first arrived in Kuwait from Durham University in the winter of 2010. The National Council for Culture Arts and Letters (NCCAL) had given us the huge task of assisting the Kuwait National Museum with investigating these long-forgotten sites. Over the next six years we excavated more than fifty trenches and surveyed vast areas of northern Kuwait, focusing our efforts on two of the largest sites, one in the Kadhima region, the other, further north at Mughaira. Far from being an isolated outpost during the Early Islamic period, we learned this part of Kuwait was well connected to its regional neighbors and indeed the wider world. At Kadhima we discovered two small hamlets, clustered around a larger structure and a stone-lined well. The well had a series of storage cisterns, presumably designed to allow the watering of a large number of animals at one time. Marks scoured into

70

stones showed how a rope was used to lower and raise a water-carrying vessel in and out of the well. The surrounding hamlets could have relied on the availability of this vital water source, it’s even possible these tiny villages provided services and shelter to passing travelers or traders. The settlement at Mughaira was larger, a small town in the traditional sense, with upwards of 70, more substantial structures spread lineally along the clifftop overlooking Kuwait Bay. Some had multiple rooms, divided by dry-stone walls. In spite of their differences, both Kadhima and Mughaira appear to have been occupied at the same time. Together these communities amounted to a linear-style network of settlements extending along the entirety of Kuwait Bay’s northern coast. It is possible they were stopping-points along an ancient road thought to have traversed this empty landscape, later known to the ancient geographers as the Tariq al-Munkadir. One of the most exciting parts of our research was the discovery that, in spite of their simple surroundings, the inhabitants of Kadhima and Mughaira had access to a wide range of goods from around the Islamic world.

At work in the desert unearthing artifacts from India, Iran and Iraq We found the remains of vast quantities of pottery from today’s Iraq, these were joined by more exotic vessels from Iran and even the more distant India, some 3000km away. Glass items from Iraq and perhaps from Syria, were also found in huge numbers. Glassmaking as a craft began some 5000 years ago in the regions of Mesopotamia (broadly the area surrounding the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) and ancient Egypt. Initially glass was a luxury item reserved for elites, however, the invention of the glass-blowing technique in the Roman eastern Mediterranean greatly reduced the time and cost involved. By the Early Islamic period, a mixture of simple and elaborate glass vessels were available to even small-scale communities such as those at Kadhima and Mughaira.

Here glassware had myriad purposes; globular bottles were used for storing liquids such as oils, while small bowls and cups may have functioned as vessels for drinking and eating. A small number of delicate bottles were used for keeping precious perfumes, cosmetics such as kohl and maybe spices and medicines. The quantity and variety was astonishing, with fragments from as many as 63 different glass vessels were found associated with one single structure, next to the well. There is evidence of large ceramic storage vessels and smaller jars glazed in a deep turquoise hue. Vessels glazed in this color are perhaps the most characteristic style identifiable with the Early Islamic period yet they themselves have a long history, made in the region of modern Iraq throughout the earlier Parthian and

Sasanian periods. Other vessels such as cooking pots and incense burners were carved from soft stone, which could have originated in Saudi Arabia, or perhaps the mountainous regions of Iran or Oman. To understand why such a diverse range of objects arrived in Kuwait, and indeed the reason for the sites’ success in general, we need to look to the region’s geography. Kuwait Bay has long benefited from its location at the crossroads between Iraq to the north, Iran to the east and the Arabian Peninsula to the west and south. This was especially important during the Early Islamic period, when these regions were home to the political, cultural and economic centers of the most powerful empire on earth, among them Samara, Baghdad, Basra, Mecca and Medina.

71


Samples of superb stamped pottery

Empires need to be underpinned by extensive communication networks to retain their geo-political cohesion; by virtue of its location, northern Kuwait lay on the path of two major arteries: the coastal road known as the Tariq al-Munkadir, mentioned earlier, which joined southern Iraq with eastern Arabia, and an inland road which followed the course of the Wadi alBatin, joining the southern Iraqi city of Al-Basra with the Hijaz (Al-Hejaz) in the west of present day Saudi Arabia, bordering the Red Sea. These roads carried a whole host of travelers, from officials and postmen, to merchants and pilgrims, each of whom contributed to the exchange of goods and ideas from across the Islamic world. In addition, Kuwait Bay lies at the head of the Arabian Gulf, putting it at the heart of a maritime trading network which linked the region with India, East Africa and even China. It was by way of these maritime routes, sometimes described as the ‘Silk Road of the Sea’, that the same ceramic and glass objects found at Kadhima and Mughaira, made their way to Zanzibar in East Africa and southern India’s Malabar coast, exchanged for Chinese ceramics, exotic natural products such as spices and timber, and even slave labor, which was in demand in the central parts of the Islamic lands. Despite the barren nature of the desert, the inhospitable climate and the very real perils of travel over a thousand years ago, areas of northern Kuwait appear to have flourished due to the influence of human interactivity at these ancient crossroads. It could even be suggested that Kuwait’s place in the wider world today, moreover its ability to look outwards is, in-part, owed to this historic inter-community trade with the outside world.

72

It would be incorrect to suggest these simple settlements were major mercantile centers, they were not. Indeed, the Early Islamic sites of Kadhima and Mughaira may have disappeared under the sands after less than a century, yet the impact of the wider world was certainly felt. Nowadays, Kuwait trades and cooperates with businesses and individuals all over the globe, with an extensive infrastructural network of road, sea and air links between regional neighbors and far-flung partners alike. While we often consider international trade and commerce as a modern phenomenon, and globalization as the exclusive product of the 21st century, we should not overlook the fact that long before today, the world was already interconnected to one degree or another, and the archeological finds on Kuwait’s northern shores are testament to this.

DR. ANDREW BLAIR Dr. Andrew Blair is a British scholar who spent an accumulated period totaling around 8 months in Kuwait researching the archeological settlements of the desert while exploring the history of trade and interaction in the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean. His thesis investigates the social and practical function of glass objects in the Early Islamic period. Dr. Blair completed his PhD in 2016 at Durham University, in the UK, currently ranked in the top five archeological schools in the world.

All photos courtesy of ©The Kadhima Project

Though the desert hamlets may have all but disappeared, the value of those communities remain. Our archeological findings show how trade and external relations had a huge influence in defining social identity, bequeathing to Kuwait a spirit of commercial and cultural cooperation that is, in many ways, as alive today, as it was 1,200 years ago.

73


CULTURE

ARTISTIC

APEX

By Vincente Simao

Arab Organization Headquarters ©Hedrich Blessing courtesy of PACE

74

75


Exquisite interiors show the best of traditional Arab craftsmanship

76

Built to symbolize Arab unity, the imposing Arab Organization Headquarters (AOH) building in Kuwait was completed in 1994 at a cost of KD45M.

its otherwise flat linear form. At the heart of the building there is an extensive atrium illuminating a bright marble central courtyard, a layout mimicking traditional houses.

By day, its exterior takes a simple, cubic shape with clever use of recessed windows to punctuate

Above the courtyard is a gargantuan, eight-story Egyptian mashrabiya, a traditional lattice screen of carved

wood. Despite its imposing height it remains a delicate centerpiece, handcrafted in the mamluk tradition without adhesive and nails, the screen is an example of the ancient art of joinery; a tediously precise technique that ensures the screen’s nine million handcrafted pieces remain as one. It is considered

the longest screen of its type in the world. The inward gaze of the edifice is fundamental to its charm. At night, its core is illuminated using in part, a row of gargantuan brass lanterns or farwanis—a traditional item used in times past in many homes. On

every floor, at every corner, art treasures fill the public spaces in the form of sculptures or antiques. On display are rare textiles such as a vest-like garment, designed to be worn under armor, onto which the entire Quran is inscribed in painstaking miniature. Glistening in the light are pearl inlay furniture, fine

marquetry and exquisite examples of woodwork from the 19th and early 20th furniture, when craftsmanship was at its pinnacle. Sumptuous Mamluk and Ottoman styles are displayed in the pristine public areas in the form of studded dowry chests and delicate escritoires

77


The collection includes works by contemporary Arab artists (writing cabinets), the latter, together with tall armoires and crested mirrors are all exquisitely inlaid with ebony, ivory and mother-of-pearl, exhibiting the Middle Eastern craftsmen’s famous talent for marquetry. From further west, Moroccan brass work is presented in tables and

78

chandeliers with Quranic verses and inset with arabesque motifs.

pious craftsmen applied great skill and devotion to their execution.

The richly decorated mihrab, an arched recess that indicates the direction of Mecca, isbreathtakingly majestic; because this decorative niche functions as the key focal point in prayer rituals in mosques,

Not only are countless time-honored traditions of Arab craftsmen displayed, the walls of the entire building are graced with exemplary works by contemporary Arab artists, showcasing their diverse

styles. These objets d’art are a testament to the principal that the Arab Organization Headquarters’ wonderfully preserves the past while setting its sights on the future. Thematic rooms recreate the splendor of yesteryear from many regions, bringing together Moroccan

zellige mosaics, fine filigree fretwork and the rich colors of the respective dynasties. The Mamluk Room epitomizes grandeur with its fantastical detail; a heavily carved oak ceiling, paneled walls and an inlaid table. Mashrabiyas screen the windows

and bookcases of leather-bound tomes fill the walls. Meanwhile The Damascene Room contains an equally striking mosaic fountain, and an ornate, painted wooden ceiling. The Tunisian room continues the flamboyant Arabesque theme, resplendent with stone

79


The Arab Organization Headquarters in Kuwait is a treasure trove of both the contemporary and the traditional arches and ceramic work. The collection also boasts a range of Islamic pottery of Moorish, Moroccan and Egyptian origin that display the region’s artistic achievement in the medium, as well as Syrian braziers and enamel ware that display a timeless beauty. But

80

beyond anything, it is the superb collection of paintings by seminal contemporary Arab artists that delight the visitor and point to the keen eye and eclectic taste of the Arab Organization’s collectors and curators. Works by Kuwaiti artist Jafar Islah hold a prominent position, as well as the arresting work of

Iraqi artist Dia Azzawi’s ‘Voyagers Between’ and the deeply evocative ‘Homage to Baghdad’. Intrepid Syrian artist Sabhan Adam’s artworks dramatically explore fundamental human psychologies. The highly textured and vividly abstract ‘Red Starfish’ by Nabil

Nahas is a joy to behold while similarly tactile sculptures include works by Ahmed Al Bahraini, Adam Henein, Hassan Kamel and Hussein Madi. Sinan Hussein’s dreamlike “Women” articulates the dramatic dichotomy of emotion and rationality; Safwan Dahoul’s ‘Dream’ is a depiction of alienation and solitude.

‘The Last King’ by Sudanese artist Rashed Diab and a series of portraits by Syrian Omar Hamdi are also part of the collection. Amongst the art there are traditional paintings on glass by Khalifa Ghalasi, who keeps alive an artistic technique that dates back centuries

The Arab Organization Headquarters building is open to private tours only.

81


IN CONVERSATION LIBERATION OF KUWAIT

HONORING OUR HEROES This year is the 25th anniversary of Kuwait’s liberation. Much brighter days have replaced those dark months that followed the August 1990 Iraqi invasion. An historic book and film project is hoping to honor those who courageously helped liberate Kuwait. Rick Robison explains. Americans have a place in Kuwait’s history going back over 100 years. In 1912, the then Amir, HH Shaikh Mubarak Al-Sabah, invited American missionaries to come to Kuwait and establish a hospital. The result of that provident invitation was the Amricani Hospital, now a cultural center.

RICK ROBISON Prolific author, public speaker and former diplomat, Rick Robison is an expert on Arab and Middle Eastern Affairs. He joined the US Foreign Service in the early 1980s, serving both in the Iran-Iraq and Gulf Wars. In 1991 he assisted the US Gulf War Task Force during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Most recently he has been working with StoryRock Inc. on a book entitled “Liberation of Kuwait” and an accompanying DVD to honor Gulf War veterans. For those interested in being part of US-Kuwait history please kindly contact: Rick Robison rrobison@storyrock.com John Lund jlund@storyrock.com

Sadly, many of the Gulf War heroes are no longer with us and many more were incapacitated by their injuries. It is now a quarter century since the 1991 Liberation. In partnership with the government of Kuwait and with the gracious support of the Ministry of Information, a project called “Remember My Service” has been spearheaded by a small, but experienced, US company.

Battles unavoidably cost lives. It was the Amricani Hospital where many of those wounded in the October 1920 Jahra Battle went for treatment. Both the historic tribal conflict fought almost a century ago at Jahra, and the engagements that were part of ‘Operation Desert Storm’—the name given to the 35-nation force that led to liberation—left many martyrs, as well as wounded. The contribution of these brave men and women is remembered by HE Shaikh Salem Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s Ambassador to the United States who asserted: “Kuwait will always be grateful to the United States. You gave us back our nation. You gave us back our homeland. Who would do that, honestly? But you did. The American people did it, and that’s why you are who you are today in the world, because you stand for righteousness and justice.…”

© Ministry of Information

82

© Ministry of Information

The project has initiated the publication of a beautiful, high-end, hardback book titled “The Liberation of Kuwait”. This archival-quality book encapsulates some of the most important moments surrounding this historic period. It includes color pictures and first-hand accounts from war veterans whose stories demonstrate the solidarity of the American and Kuwaiti people and underline that century-long relationship that started with the founding of the Amricani Hospital. General Colin Powell, as well as former US Ambassadors to Kuwait, Ryan Crocker and Douglas Silliman, Kuwaiti Ambassador to the US, HE Shaikh Salem Al-Sabah and Kuwait’s Minister of Information, HE Shaikh Salman Al-Sabah have all lent a distinguished hand in this seminal event. The company aims to distribute the book together with a specially commissioned feature-length documentary to commemorate the work

and sacrifices of all those involved in Operation Desert Storm. Ultimately the hope is to present this superb piece of history to all the veterans of the Gulf War in Kuwait and the US. With 750,000 Gulf War veterans in the US alone, the project is looking for partners and sponsors to ensure it can succeed. Thanks to the foresight and support of the Kuwaiti government there has been a small, initial print-run of the book and documentary. These have generated a strong demand from veterans all over the US.

the hundreds of thousands of Gulf War Veterans and their families as a token of respect. The challenge is enormous; though we have seen a few generous sponsors coming on board many more are needed to ensure we can go into full-scale production.” “We are hopeful there may be individuals and companies in Kuwait who recognize the intrinsic value of this project and who are willing to collaborate with us, echoing that very same spirit that American servicemen and women showed their Kuwaiti friends a quarter century ago”.

Staff at StoryRock Inc. explained: “In this, the 25th year since the Gulf War ended, it is essential we honor our unsung heroes from Kuwait and the US to remind the world that the safety and protection of people everywhere is a responsibility we all share…Our responsibility to our children is to keep alive the memory of the sacrifice and courage of our heroes who actually lived through this period so that we can all learn lessons of international collaboration and friendship”. While StoryRock Inc. is thrilled to see the positive reaction, at the same time, the company hopes to reach ALL Veterans. “We need to send this gift to each and every single one of

83


IN CONVERSATION LIBERATION OF KUWAIT

FROM THE ASHES Haitham Alsarraf’s Invasion Occupation Awakening, is a collection of unapologetically gritty short stories in English based on memoirs of the 1990 invasion. He tells how the book came about and the need to encourage creativity among homegrown writers. I had been a university student majoring in English literature when Kuwait was interrupted by war. As a Kuwaiti, I stayed in my home country throughout the invasion. What I witnessed as a young man transformed me thereafter as an adult. Following liberation, I was commissioned by the British newspaper, The Times, to work as an interpreter. Through this task, I heard first-hand accounts of the atrocities which later became part of my short story collection. Before writing professionally, I was an active blogger and had set up and edited a Kuwait University literary magazine titled Perceptions, followed by an online magazine called Kaleidoscope. Invasion Occupation Awakening is a collection of fictional short stories that I wrote in English about the 1990 Iraqi invasion, occupation, and 1991 liberation of Kuwait. The cover shows a clenched and bloodied fist, pierced by a barbed wire onto which it holds tightly, it appears against a backdrop of red, white, black and green, the symbolic colors of the Kuwaiti flag.The title refers not just to the events leading up to the August 1990 invasion, but also the brutal occupation itself and the

84

profound changes experienced by a wide variety of the book’s characters, who hail from different nationalities and backgrounds, all of whom have to live through the same seven-month ordeal facing different perils and realizations. The idea of ‘Awakening’ is an integral element of the book. The book is unedited and has a raw style; it offers no explanations. Instead, it deliberately blurs the black and white, intentionally leaning on the gray. At times, it graphically highlights the depths of depravity into which certain characters plunge. A decade and a half after the Liberation of Kuwait, having completed my literature studies in the US and having spent my formative years in the UK, I felt a newfound wisdom. Encouraged by many friends, I decided to expose my writings to Kuwait and the rest of the world. I was able to fuse my own personal war experiences with those of the people I had interviewed and a set of short stories emerged. Published in October 2014, Invasion Occupation Awakening was born. Today, I sense the literary world in Kuwait is slowly going through its

own ‘awakening’, but unfortunately creative writing is still in short supply. Novels being written in English by Kuwaitis are even scarcer. I do not see many Kuwaiti novelists, especially writers of fiction, increasing much in the near future. One reason could be that creative writing needs to be actively fostered here; furthermore internationalizing such a genre from within is no miniscule venture. Kuwaitis are a minority, even in their own nation; they are demographically dwarfed by larger countries where literary traditions date back centuries. Nevertheless, because the country is so cosmopolitan, much creativity is blossoming in the artistic world.An eclectic group of nationalities are emerging, they are nurturing the creative spark that we need. Fostering this spark should therefore be a top priority. Creativity all starts with a tiny speck, a nuance, a hope. My own hope is that here in Kuwait, insha’allah, it can be nurtured so that it can ultimately grow and thrive.

Haitham Alsarraf is a Kuwaiti author and founding editor of Perceptions and Kaleidoscope. He holds an MA in English literature and teaches English at Kuwait University. His work has been published internationally from the UAE, to Europe and the USA. Invasion Occupation Awakening was published in 2014. Other works by him are available on Amazon.com

85


ABCK Chair, Dr. Juliet Dinkha addresses the guests of honor and members of ABCK

From left-right, ABCK Vice-Chairman Steve Chikos; Guest of Honor US Ambassador Lawrence Silverman; ABCK Chair, Dr. Juliet Dinkha; Board Members Gregg Stevens and Zina Al Kazemi Amin

Dear ABCK Members and Friends: It is my pleasure to welcome you as the new Chair of the American Business Council – Kuwait in this Fall/ Winter issue of The Correspondent magazine.

aim to strengthen the efforts of the Board of Directors to develop and encourage greater participation from American and Kuwaiti corporate and professional entities.

In the next year I look forward to collaborating with you in our events, committees, and focus groups Thank you all for your continued support and feel free to contact us

It is a great honor and privilege for me to be elected the first woman Chair in the thirty year history of ABCK! I hope as ABCK grows and evolves as a dynamic and involved business community, we will see membership growing. Apart from two new Board members, we are have seen new corporate members and individuals joining our ranks and I hope my appointment will encourage more new women members to participate.

Speaking for the entire Board of Directors, I must express our gratitude and appreciation for the kind and generous assistance of His Excellency, Ambassador Douglas A. Silliman, and also Jeff Hamilton, Commercial Officer of the United States Embassy in Kuwait and his staff. We wish Ambassador Silliman all the best in his new mission and warmly welcome our new US Ambassador to Kuwait Mr. Lawrence Silverman. I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to Mr. Scott Beverly, former Chairman for the last two years and his wife Lorie, for their dedication to ABCK, we wish them all the best.

Best Regards,

As we enter a new era of growth and opportunity for ABCK, we are always looking at ways of improving our vision and mission. We have recently opened our membership to Kuwaitis who are alumni of US Universities; ABCK is thrilled to offer them the opportunity to meet with a diverse range of business leaders all with vast experiences. It is also a great chance for industry veterans to listen to their voices. For this upcoming year, our plan is to not only to increase membership but also to provide an atmosphere of collaboration. Furthermore, we

86

As we now live in a digital age ABCK will be reworking its website to give members a better and more interactive platform through which members can connect with each other, recognize our corporate members and disseminate business information, we will also be visible on Social Media— just some of the efforts that ABCK is making to enhance the Council.

Dr. Juliet Dinkha Chair, American Business Council Kuwait

US Ambassador Lawrence Silverman delivers keynote address

From left-right, Board Member Bernard Dunn; Chair, Dr Juliet Dinkha; Board Member Gregg Stevens

From left-right, ABCK Vice-Chairman Steve Chikos; Area GM Millennium Hotels, Dani Saleh; Deputy Chief of Mission US Embassy, Joey Hood

MD and CEO, Marafie Kuwaitia, Mohd Shahid Islam

THE VOICE OF AMERICAN BUSINESS IN THE GCC

87


ABCK BOARD OF DIRECTORS

88


MAGAZINE PROFILE 2016 - 2017

CIRCULATION BY SECTOR

33%

WE ARE DIFFERENT The market place is inundated with millions of marketing messages all vying for attention. It’s imperative that your marketing spend provides the best ROI. The Correspondent combines the strength of its unparelleled contents with an enviable market penetration that reaches the highest échelons of Kuwait’s most affluent businessmen and women.

Government Embassies, Ministries & Government Bodies

The Correspondent employs innovative marketing and strategic alliances at grass root and at international government levels that not only build The Correspondent’s brand but also the brands of its advertisers across multiple regions.

22% 16% Oil & Gas - Upstream, & Support Services

Banking, Finance & Insurance

Real Estate

CIRCULATION BY GEOGRAPHY

Male

58%

42%

71%

21%

Female

Kuwait US Other GCC States

Launched in 2015, The Correspondent magazine is a quarterly magazine penned by recognized journalists serving the business community in the GCC and beyond. It provides a dynamic, integrated platform for business and trade. Showcasing compelling news and interviews across all sectors.

Others (Manufacturing Industrial - Consumer Goods Consumer Services)

Expat

60%

40%

94% University Graduates

Arab

35+ Age

The Correspondent’s core readership consists of Kuwait’s business élite, Ambassadors and forward-thinkers. Each issue is delivered by hand to the desks of the nation’s most affluent and educated power brokers.

FACTS & FIGURES Reader Demographics By Designation

CONTENT

40%

Readers’ Profile

38%

35%

The Correspondent’s compact A4 size and clean format appeals to information-hungry readers. Its thought-provoking contents written by award-winning journalists cut straight to the heart of key issues delivering relevant news coverage to those people who want to be ahead of the competition.

32%

30%

• 57% • 84%

25% 20%

21%

• 93%

15%

• 75%

10%

9%

5%

UNPARALLELED REACH • Distributed quarterly to over 10,000 of the most influential decision makers in the region • Hand-delivered to almost 300 Chairmen and CEOs of global multinationals, over 70 diplomatic missions, in addition to highranking political leaders • Closely affiliated with the US Embassy, local and regional US trade organizations and the US Department of Defense

Telecommunication

5%

READERSHIP

8%

ABOUT THE CORRESPONDENT

13% 10%

0%

INQUIRIES

Diplomats & Civil Servants

Chairman, BOD & MD

CEO, CFO & General Managers

Senior Managers

• • • •

Age 35-45 Senior Management position and above University Graduates Annual per capita income in excess of US$150,000

Kuwait T: (+965) 222 02 561 F: (+965) 222 02 563 E: marketing@thecorrespondent.cc Opening hours: 9:00am - 4:00pm (Sun - Thurs)

* This data has been based on print readership only and excludes online readers at issuu.com and kuwaittimes.net

90

91


The Correspondent - Fall/Winter 2016  

This issue of The Correspondent platforms names who have been changing the world we live in. Our focus this issue is on Construction. Our co...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you