Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Kuwait 2020: Re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic?

Are former US Ambassador to Kuwait, Deborah Jones’, remarks about the future of Kuwait beyond 2020 coming to fruition? 

Wikileaks leaked a report that Ambassador Jones sent to the Department of State in 2010.  My favorite quote was that Kuwait is, “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”  It is a fascinating perspective and one that I’m sure she didn’t want to become public.

Deborah Jones was Ambassador to Kuwait from 2008 through 2011.  I admire the her. She is a tell-it-like-it-is kind of person with a sharp wit and dry sense of humor.   She speaks fluent Arabic, regularly frequented diwaniyas and political gatherings, and had an in-depth understanding of Kuwaiti culture.

Ambassador Jones’ report was brought to my attention by a friend and former Kuwaiti MP who believes Kuwait is headed in the direction predicted by Amb Jones. (As he stated, "I'm worried about securing the future of my children and grandchildren.  I've bought a home in Europe.")   You can read the full report and perspective pieces regarding the report at:

1 comment:

Jon Son said...

Oil has been Kuwait's blessing as well as its curse. With wealth coming in freely there was never enough motivation to invest in building additional industrial expertise, or to face the challenges of sorting out the governance structural issues described in those documents. Everything was just procrastinated and oil money was used to buy local peace and expat labour. Will it all end in a failed state? It's all in the hands of the citizens, I guess, not the expats.

Being tiny is also both a blessing as well as a curse. These days Saudi Arabia is trying to change, but because it's relatively large, the transformation effort is probably not going to be easy at all. But Kuwait is so small. Not too long ago, tiny Singapore was once a mere fishing village with no natural resources and no local economy. And Hong Kong wasn't all that hot either back then. But because they were so small they were both able to effect remarkable change really fast. Maybe there's an example in there somewhere for Kuwait. The political challenges have to be confronted, dealt with and resolved, and that's probably going to be the toughest part. Maybe the worst will happen before it gets better. But that's usually how uncomfortable transformative change starts.