Interpreting Middle East Economic News and Analyzing Market Trends

Category: Kuwait

There is still tension on the Iraq-Kuwait border…

Nearly twenty-two years since the end of the first Gulf War, tensions between Iraq and Kuwait still exist.

 

Iraqi police said they shot in the air to disperse stone-throwing crowds protesting against the demarcation of the border with Kuwait on Monday, leaving some on the Kuwaiti side believing they were being fired at, according to media reports.

The protest, and the confusion over the shooting, underlined localized tensions over the position of the frontier that have persisted more than two decades after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

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“Kuwait, ‘the back office of logistical support’ for Syria’s rebels”

This was the headline of a recent article in The National newspaper of the UAE.  Kuwait has stayed out of the spotlight for much of the Arab Spring, unlike its neighbours Qatar and Saudi Arabia.  Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been very vocal and very active in the uprisings across the Middle East, and especially involved in Libya and Syria.  Kuwait, on the other hand, has kept a low profile until recently.  It seems to have taken a much more active role in Syria as The National reports:

To many observers, Kuwait’s decision to host a United Nations meeting last week to raise humanitarian aid for Syrians – and its pledge of US$300 million to the effort – were the most overt steps that the country has yet taken to get involved in the crisis.

Until then, Kuwait had appeared largely absent from regional diplomacy on the crisis, while Qatar has funded and hosted the political opposition to Mr Al Assad and Saudi Arabia has reportedly sent arms to anti-regime fighters.

Yet interviews with aid organisations and officials suggest Kuwait has played a no less pivotal role than its Gulf Arab neighbours during the 22-month uprising. This country of 2.6 million people has emerged as a central fund-raising hub for direct financial support to insurgents fighting the Assad regime and for humanitarian aid to rebel-controlled areas, which are said to encompass slightly more than half of the country.

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Kuwait wealth fund assets top $291 billion, focuses on PE not bonds, while Kuwait Petroleum joins $9 billion oil refinery venture in Vietnam

  Kuwait’s largest sovereign wealth fund, Future Generations Fund, managed by the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) had assets of $261 billion at the end of March last year, according to Reuters.  The report also said that 47% of the fund was invested in stocks.  In its search for returns the KIA has also been moving more aggressively into private equity.

“The Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) is focused on private equity funds instead of bonds, Badr Al Saad, the head of Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund, said yesterday.

Mr Al Saad said that the KIA has been investing in private equity funds where the returns are good and is shunning bonds because interest rates are so low.

“We have been investing in private equity funds lately … the returns are good,” he said in rare public comments about the KIA’s investment strategy. He named Texas Pacific Group and CBC as two of the funds the KIA has been investing in.

He said the fund wanted to invest in upcoming infrastructure projects in Europe and the United States.

“We think that these countries need to develop their infrastructure. We think that investments in infrastructure will be big in the next five years,” he said.  Read the full article from The National.

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