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KUWAIT - Economy

Rasheed Al-Qenae

Managing Partner, KPMG Kuwait

Bio

Rasheed Al-Qenae is the Managing Partner of KPMG Kuwait and Head of Tax—Middle East and South Asia (MESA) region. His expertise lies in advising large multinationals on tax-related matters and infrastructure projects in Kuwait. He brings valuable experience from working with the department of income taxes in Kuwait for years and has had a wide range of clients from multiple sectors, including oil and gas, aviation, financial services, and retail.

"In Kuwait, KPMG provides audit, tax, and advisory services."
KPMG is looking to help companies in Kuwait with upcoming changes such as ESG requirements in line with the increasingly diversification of the economy.
Which of KPMG’s solutions are the most sought after in the Kuwaiti market?

In Kuwait, KPMG provides audit, tax, and advisory services. In terms of our focus areas, we noticed that the COVID-19 crisis highlighted technology as the space to improve upon. Companies have seen how powerful technology can be for their business by helping in lowering costs, increasing efficiency and so forth. The pandemic also made people more aware of the need for cybersecurity, which became one of our priorities. Companies are exposed to cyber threats due to technological shifts, which is one of the major pain points of our clients. We have become a knowledge advisor and a means of improvement for our clients, working to resolve these potential concerns even before they arise. Technology can be extremely powerful when applied using the right procedures and tools. You need to develop the right infrastructure to support your system and keep your data safe.

In 2022, KPMG in Kuwait launched the first edition of the KPMG Private Enterprise Global Tech Innovator competition in Kuwait. How was this initiative received in the country?

Kuwait has certainly responded positively to this idea. Early-stage tech companies from over 30 countries participated in the event, with 25 applications from Kuwait alone. The event provided a great platform to support the growth of participating tech start-ups and gave them the opportunity to present their ideas to a global audience and network with industry leaders, investors as well as other competitors. Bounce, an edtech start-up, emerged as the country winner and went on to represent Kuwait in the global finale at Web Summit, Lisbon, where Hull-based HiiROC was named the overall winner. We intended to put these young entrepreneurs in front of investors who are more likely to be interested in their ideas, considering many of them are constantly disrupting their respective sectors. Our goal was to promote great ideas and accelerate the development of innovative techpreneurs who came forward for the competition, and we are certainly noticing a spring in their step post completion. KPMG is only the facilitator and does not gain from this event.

What are the priorities of KPMG in Kuwait for 2023?

Our focus for 2023 will be ESG, which is the priority for KPMG globally and not just in Kuwait. We aim to contribute toward the diversification of the economy and help it become less reliant on the oil and gas sector. While there are still no ESG compliance rules in Kuwait, we expect them to be introduced soon. The positive thing about international companies present in the country is that they are likely already ESG-compliant due to the regulations elsewhere, which will certainly accelerate the transition. We are planning events and initiatives to make our clients more aware and prepared for these changes. We want to educate them on the reporting standards and systems they can use to advance their operations. We will ensure our clients and communities are ready for this change before it happens. Another focus for KPMG is digital transformation. We currently work with a number of organizations that want a complete digital makeover of their business. Along with this, we are focusing on cybersecurity. We want to help our clients transition to digital as early and swiftly as possible. Finally, we want to improve our team; our focus is mainly their work-life balance. We introduced several changes since the pandemic struck, and these work for the betterment of our team’s health and efficiency. At this point, we are working using a hybrid model. Some physical interaction is necessary because activities such as networking and negotiation are better done in person; however, organizational administration can, for example, be dealt with via online channels. The recipe for success comes down to balance and moderation, which is what we have been exploring. The hybrid model is likely to continue as the newer generations are becoming more tech-savvy.

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