Telecoms & IT

Media Matters

Al Qabas

For Kuwait, attracting FDI depends on the impartiality and independence of media outlets.

Media plays an extensive role in political, social, and economic aspects of life. On the investment level, media, no matter its form—print, digital, TV, or radio—plays a key role. However, this could not be effective unless media coverage remains objective, independent and neutral in order to provide an accurate image that doesn’t serve personal interests and agendas.

There are many active news platforms in Kuwait, due to the fair level of press freedom. Hence, media reports have reached a high level of credibility and effectiveness. Investment opportunities in Kuwait are relatively limited because the government dominates the most important components of economic output. In addition, the presence of the private sector remains limited to certain fields such financial services, real estate and industry where the government remains competitive due to its strong finances and investments, as well as its widespread real estate ownership. In addition, it remains important to highlight that the oil sector, a major source of income for the country, is still fully controlled by the public sector.

Sometimes, this dominance can restrict the influence of media on the economic sphere, which limits the exposition of major issues that need to be addressed. In addition, an over-dominance from the public sector reduces the attractiveness of Kuwait as a destination for FDI, shifting foreign investors’ attention toward more attractive markets in the region.

At this point, media has an important role to draw attention to disadvantages of certain policies that hold back the economic diversification of a country, which is heavily dependent on oil as a sole source of income.

If media succeed in bringing important issues to the attention of the public, this will gain some momentum. Media channels could be used as a powerful lobby in economic and financial affairs in order to achieve greater openness. The government has to abandon its productive role and focus on its regulatory and supervisory roles, like other countries that have managed to win a seat in the globalized world economy.

The Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA) makes efforts to promote a better investment environment and promote opportunities that can be seized to expand the contribution of the private sector. Media has an obligation to support its efforts in that regard. Furthermore, there is a need for new laws and legislations that constitute a reference for investors in a state of law that duly protect the rights and duties of all parties.

Saying that, we should stress the need to join forces with KDIPA, since it cannot, at least not alone, achieve the desired objectives and without cooperation from the Ministries of Finance, Commerce, Communication, Transportation, Oil, Social Affairs, the Municipality of Kuwait City and other Governmental departments.

We all know about the complicated bureaucracy and long documentation cycle in Kuwait. This is why cooperation and coordination are more than a necessity, in order to disengage powers and facilitate the business cycle.

Media in Kuwait always discusses such issues, and sheds light on the successes achieved in certain sectors, especially banking under the patronage and supervision of the Central Bank of Kuwait and Kuwait Stock Market (Boursa), under the supervision of the Capital Markets Authority. Media raises awareness of the activity of Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), the Public Institution for Social Security (PIFSS) and other governmental or semi-governmental institutions actively involved in investment.

More importantly, media in Kuwait do not hesitate to give credit to the private sector for its successes, achievements and the efficient people serving as heads of businesses, businesses whose performance makes Kuwaitis proud.

At the same time, media needs to give more attention to small businesses and youth initiatives, especially those who have engaged in new digital technology. As for attracting foreign investment, media sometimes look unhelpful because of its criticism of bureaucracy, mismanagement, and corruption. However, this is not as negative as some people may think, and foreign investors actually appreciate when they find free media discussing sensitive issues with transparency. This reassures investors and encourages them to come to Kuwait. Investors are initially attracted to places where media is a reforming force, as is the case in Kuwait.