Kuwait: Visit by Baroness Morris – December 2013
British Embassy Kuwait
Baroness Morris of Bolton, the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Kuwait leads twelve UK airport companies on a very productive trade mission to Kuwait.
The Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Kuwait, Baroness Morris of Bolton, visited Kuwait December 7 to December 10, leading a delegation of UK airport companies to the Kuwait Airport Development Forum. A busy side programme also saw her meet several Ministers, senior business figures and key officials. She saw positive examples of the genuine changes taking place within the business environment, led by young, energetic and committed Ministers and officials.
The iconic airport project is under way…
Baroness Morris’ visit offered an extra dimension to the small scale yet well timed Kuwait Airport Development Forum. The tender for the new Foster + Partners designed airport terminal was expected to be issued during the event – in fact it issued on December 22 – which added to the interest around the £4bn construction contract with a large number of international contractors present. The presentations underlined the scale of the project – the new terminal will lift annual passenger capacity from four million to around twenty five million once completed. It throws up significant opportunities for UK companies as subcontractors and in the security and administration fields.
Separately the delegation met with the senior team at the DGCA (Kuwait’s Civil Aviation Authority) to discuss the new airport master plan which includes a new control tower, a second runway, a new temporary airport terminal and further requirements for air traffic control as well as other support contracts. The delegation were able to talk through the tendering process and heard about the recent success of the UK Civil Aviation Authority who secured the contract to advise Kuwait’s air traffic control team.
…Other HVOs are following
With the Communications and Transport Minister, Essa Al Kandari, Baroness Morris was able to follow up on the discussions at the recent Joint Steering Group about the Metro and GCC rail project. Al Kandari described the challenges facing the government in delivering the metro in the five year timescale planned. He also discussed the GCC rail project .
Signs for further optimism
The Cabinet Affairs and Health Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al Abdullah Al Sabah and the Commerce and Industry Minister Anas Al Saleh talked Baroness Morris through the real progress made around FDI and corporation laws which were enacted earlier this year. It was now possible for a foreign business to register to work locally in three days – the fastest anywhere in the Gulf. Baroness Morris also had the opportunity to meet the head of the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority, Sheikh Meshaal Al Sabah, who discussed plans to ease international investors into the market, and the recently appointed head of the SME Fund, Mohammed Al Zuhair who talked about the intended link ups with young UK entrepreneurs in Tech City and beyond.
With the Minister of Education and Higher Education, Dr Nayef Al Hajraf, Baroness Morris talked through the long-term plan to reform the Kuwaiti education system . Early successes included brining in native English language teachers to oversee the teaching of English in all public schools – a project in which the British Council is involved – improvements in training and support for teachers of children with learning difficulties and disabilities – UKTI are arranging for UK expertise to be made available – and the wider use of IT in all schools. Dr Nayef highlighted his trip to London for the World Education Forum in January as an opportunity to see and experience more of what the UK has to offer in the education sector.
This visit demonstrated the wider commercial opportunities that are beginning to come on stream here. Baroness Morris and the delegation were struck in particular by how the progress on the airport project, together with the recent decision to upgrade the Kuwait Airways fleet through the purchase of twenty five Airbus A320 and A350 aircraft, signalled that the Development Plan was really beginning to move forward. This will lead to further significant opportunities for UK business, building on the successes of the last three months, which have seen contracts worth nearly £2 billion come to UK companies.
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