Kuwait is a country found in the Middle East and it spans an area of roughly 6,880 square miles making it the 152nd largest nation in the world. Kuwait is one of the wealthiest nations in the world and its currency, the Kuwait Dinar, has a higher value than any other unit of currency in the world. The success of the Kuwaiti economy is mainly due to the presence of high-value natural resources such as petroleum and arable land. The Kuwait government has implemented several strategies to ensure the sustainable exploitation of its natural resources.
Major Natural Resources of Kuwait
Arable land is one of the most critical natural resources in Kuwait. A study carried out in 2014 indicated that approximately 945 square miles of land in Kuwait were used for agricultural purposes. However, despite its importance, the agricultural sector in Kuwait has not had significant improvement because the nation is situated in a relatively dry area. Due to the lack of development in the sector, it does not provide a large number of jobs. Research from the World Bank indicates that only 4% of the Kuwaiti workforce was employed in the agricultural sector. Most of the people who work in the agricultural sector are foreigners. Foreign investors own a large number of farms in Kuwait. The contribution of Kuwait's agricultural sector to the gross domestic product is also minimal as in 2017 it contributed less than 0.5% of the total GDP. Most of the agricultural produce from Kuwait include fruits and vegetables for local consumption. To increase the nation's agricultural output, the Kuwaiti government has experimented with some modern farming methods such as the use of hydroponics and growing food in a carefully controlled situation. Apart from the dry climate, another factor that limits the agricultural potential of Kuwait is the fact that much of its agricultural land was destroyed during the war with Iraq. The Iraqi army caused severe destruction to Kuwait's agricultural land as they used fire to destroy crops.
Another primary natural resource in Kuwait is the livestock. Some of the most commonly kept animals in Kuwait include cattle, sheep, and goats. Livestock keeping contributes significantly to the country’s agricultural output as its contribution was roughly 67%. Due to the low amount of water in the country, the government supplies the livestock farmers with water. The Kuwaiti Ministry of Electricity and Water is responsible for supplying water to the livestock farmers.
Due to its position, Kuwait has access to large fishing grounds with a wide array of fish. Despite the availability of a variety of fish species, fishing only contributes a small portion to Kuwait's gross domestic product. Most of the fish caught in Kuwait's territorial waters are consumed locally by the Kuwaiti people. Large-scale fishing is primarily carried out by the United Fisheries of Kuwait. Apart from fishing in Kuwait's territorial waters, the organization also fishes in international waters of the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Red Sea. The organization is well known for the quality of its shrimp. One of the factors that limit Kuwait's ability to exploit its fish resources in its territorial waters is the rampant overfishing that occurred in the Gulf during the 1970s. Apart from the overfishing, other factors that limit Kuwait's fishing industry is the impact of war and the environmental damage caused by frequent oil spills in the region.
One of the most critical natural resources in Kuwait is the oil reserves. Geological research indicates that the oil reserves in Kuwait comprise slightly below 10% of the world's total reserves. The Kuwaiti government indicated that its reserves were approximately 104 billion barrels. Part of Kuwait's oil reserves is situated in the Saudi-Kuwait neutral zone. Kuwait's oil reserves in this region are estimated to be 2.5 billion barrels. Kuwait is home to the world's second largest oil reserve, the Burgan field. The oil reserves in the Burgan field are estimated to range from 66 billion barrels to 75 billion barrels. In 2013, according to a report published by the Oil Patch Asia website, the field was considered one of the most productive in the world. Records indicate that the most productive year for the field was in 1972 when its production was approximately 2,400,000 barrels per day. Due to the presence of massive oil reserves in Kuwait, the industry has grown exponentially. The oil industry is often considered Kuwait's most important industry since it contributes more than 40% of the nation's gross domestic product. The Kuwaiti government is in charge of the oil industry in the country due to the importance of the industry to the economy.
Apart from massive oil reserves, Kuwait also has substantial reserves of natural gas. Due to the massive size of its natural gas reserve, Kuwait is considered one of the top 20 leading natural gas producers in the world. In the Middle Eastern region, Kuwait's natural gas reserves are considered to have the 7th highest natural gas reserves. The Kuwait Petroleum Corporation is one of the most dominant companies in the country, and it owns all the gas reserves in the country. The Kuwaiti people consume vast quantities of natural gas, and experts believe that the demand for natural gas in the region is much higher than Kuwait's current production. The natural gas consumption in Kuwait grew by roughly 10% on average each year. Apart from having the second largest oil fields in the world, the Burgan field also has massive reserves of natural gas which are estimated to be 70 trillion cubic feet
Kuwait also has vast quantities of minerals, which the country has been pursuing to diversify its economy. Cement production is one area the government has invested heavily. The Kuwait Shuaiba cement company contracted the FLSmidth of Denmark to supply in-plant materials and handling equipment worth 34 million Euros for the production line at the cement plant. The initial production line had the capacity of 5,500 tons per day. Later the second dispatch of similar capacity was supplied by the same company.
Economic Challenges That Face Kuwait
Kuwait faced some challenges mainly due to the impact of the war. The government implemented an ambitious recovery plan to restore Kuwait's economic growth after the war. In the modern era, the fluctuating price of oil in the international market is a significant challenge facing Kuwait.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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