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Education, Kuwait’s biggest challenge: Alghanim

Gulf Bank emphasizes role of private sector in ‘New Kuwait Vision’

KUWAIT: (From left to right) Adel Abdul Wahab Majed, Deputy Chairman, Kuwait Banking Association and Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Boubyan Bank, Dr Anwar Al-Mudhaf, Chairman of the board of Ahli United Bank, Bader Nasser Al-Kharafi, Vice Chairman & Group CEO – Zain Group, Omar Kutayba Alghanim, Chairman of Gulf Bank and Majed Essa Al-Ajeel, Chairman of Burgan Bank, during the Euromoney Conference Kuwait, yesterday. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: Gulf Bank successfully concluded its seventh consecutive lead sponsorship of the Euromoney Conference which took place yesterday under the theme of ‘New Kuwait – Financial Challenge or Financing Opportunity?’ Held in partnership with the Ministry of Finance at the JW Marriott, this financial conference gathered together policy makers, financiers, and investors to explore the Kuwait National Development Plan, commonly referred to as the New Kuwait 2035, and the changes it will bring to Kuwait’s economy and the nation as a whole.

The opening session included remarks from Anas Al-Saleh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, as well as Dr. Mohammed Al-Hashel, Governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait. Omar Kutayba Alghanim, Chairman of Gulf Bank and CEO of Alghanim Industries, participated in the morning’s first interview session with Kuwaiti banks.

KUWAIT: Omar Kutayba Alghanim, Chairman of Gulf Bank during his interview session at Euromoney Kuwait Conference 2017.

Discussing the New Kuwait plan, Alghanim said: “I want what’s best for our country. In order to build the economy envisaged by the New Kuwait strategy, we will need financial capital and a banking system that is ready, willing, and able to support on multiple fronts. We must also have the right human capital in place to help realize the plan.”

Highlighting the complexities in implementing the New Kuwait vision, Alghanim noted: “It’s one thing to have an ambitious plan, but it’s quite another to implement it. As a businessman, I know how hard it is to drive change in a single company, it’s obviously much harder to change an entire country. It requires hard work, determination, and a real sense of urgency. It’s also critical to have clear metrics for measurability and accountability, as well as transparent and detailed reporting on the plan’s progress.”

Noting the importance of human capital in delivering the plan, Alghanim remarked: “Education is greatest challenge we face as a nation. Kuwait’s spending per student is far greater than per student spending in many developed countries like Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, and France. But, while our spending is among the highest, our output isn’t. Put simply, we’re not getting our required rate of return – in fact, strictly on a yield basis, we have a worse rate of return than most of the world when it comes to education spending. We must shift the focus of our educational system to one that knows how to inspire, motivate, and empower students. Critical thinking skills are areas in which we must improve. We must also address the issue of female labor participation, as our gender participation gap is still high. At our companies, we place great importance on ensuring our workplaces empower women and offer opportunities for them to advance in their careers.”

Alghanim concluded by affirming his commitment to Kuwait: “At Gulf Bank and Alghanim Industries, we are fully committed to helping the next generation. Our in-house programs ensure our employees have the training and support they need to advance in their careers. On the social responsibility front, we also have quite a number of training, education, and mentorship programs, which help youth develop the social and intellectual skills needed to be successful in the future.”
The Euromoney Conference is the world’s leading organizer of conferences for cross-border investment and capital markets for portfolio and direct investors, financial intermediaries, corporations, governments, banks and financial institutions. The annual Euromoney Conference provides Gulf Bank an unparalleled platform to discuss Kuwait’s fiscal, monetary and economic diversification strategy.

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