By Munirah Al-Fayez
KUWAIT: As the stress of a coming recession rises, more and more Kuwaitis and people from neighboring countries are looking for ways to save and invest. Countries are trying to go through the recession unscathed. Kuwait Times interviewed Saudi and Kuwaiti consultants to ask them what they believe will be the best course of action to take when planning to save and invest and improve a country’s economy. Ranim Machhadi, a Saudi investment and marketing consultant, explained that it is well known internationally that countries in the Arabian Gulf are very consumerist, especially when it comes to food, clothes and other daily use items.
According to Machhadi, for Gulf residents to be able to save more money, they should first pay back all their debts and stop buying things they do not need, like clothes and décor items. They should stop buying things they do not have the money for, like for example a car, by taking out a loan to buy them. The economy of Gulf countries is very good, she added. “Not a lot needs to be changed. Gulf countries are always growing and improving. In general, for any country’s economy to grow, there needs to be support from the country itself.
There need to be job opportunities and companies for people to work at, and people in that country need to be ready to work and grow,” Machhadi said, saying she strongly believes there needs to be good education, new studies, international growth of local companies and strong tourism in a country for its economy to prosper. For an average resident in the GCC countries to invest, Machhadi explained, the best way is to first gain knowledge and educate themselves on the world of investing. Also, always invest based on knowledge, because, counter to popular belief, “there is no luck in this field. You need to know what you are doing.” For a person to become a better saver and investor in the long run, Machhadi said they need a daily routine.
“Waking up early helps me be more productive. It has also been proven that exercising makes you smarter, more focused and more disciplined. Discipline, which is doing things even when they are difficult or when you do not feel like it, is the number one trait for success. Discipline makes you achieve a lot and it makes you more productive in the long run,” she said. Abdulaziz Al-Darweesh a Kuwaiti business consultant who also has a business-oriented podcast about financing, business and studies, said a society becomes consumerist if they have disposable income. Darweesh explains that in Kuwait, people are used to living in their parents’ house, even when they start working, and there is no financial awareness.
Therefore, Kuwaitis feel they would rather use their money for entertainment, because they probably do not have the knowledge of business or investment. Darweesh states that an average Kuwaiti needs to educate themself. He explains how a person should have a monthly budget, make a savings account and invest some of the money that is left. His belief is that Kuwaitis should not spend as much money on restaurants, since “according to studies, 82 percent of Kuwaiti youth eat at a restaurant twice a week”.
Also, Darweesh said the government and private companies should lower their spending to reduce inflation, which will result in Kuwaitis having a stronger income. For the Kuwaiti economy to grow, according to Darweesh, we need to change the ‘tamalluk’ law which does not allow non-Kuwaitis to own property or invest in Kuwait. Also, there needs to be a minimum wage in Kuwait, he said. “Having a minimum wage would make it less expensive to recruit Kuwaitis compared to non-Kuwaitis, and of course, the Kuwaitization rule needs to be abolished,” he added.
Darweesh said he believes lack of education and awareness are the biggest problems in the Kuwaiti community and the root cause of every problem in Kuwait. Education, he explains, is what lowers the number of problems in a country. “If the quality of education improves in Kuwait, every problem would be solved.”