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Development Challenges in Kuwait Essay

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Updated: Nov 7th, 2021


A developed country is a country with high income per capita, high standards of living, developed economies, urbanization, and technological advancements. The status of developed, developing, and underdeveloped countries is an evaluation based on Economical, Political, Social, and Cultural status of the country. (Handelman,2007). Kuwait is a well-developed country in terms of Economical status due to its income from Oil and Gas but its political status, as well as Social and Cultural status, is not so influential.

Kuwait is a small Arab country in Southwestern Asia, bordering Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It has one-tenth of the world’s petroleum reserves making it a leading petroleum producer. (Fadel,1980) Kuwait has been seeking to become one of the richest and most influential countries since 1946 because of its oil exports. It has been managing well but has some problems that will arise shortly which include it not having the best oil rates, insufficient food, water, and oil. These challenges have made it hard for the country to be graded as a developed country (Thirwall, 2008)

Development challenges

According to the 2003 statistics, it has a population of 2.484 million. Nonetheless, the total fertility rate in Kuwait is 3.3 making it one of the less developed countries with high rates. However, the reference nutrient intake is considerably low meaning the country could encounter population growth issues (Thirwall, 2008). Compared to developed countries, Kuwait has a lower gross domestic product of 34.2 billion at a growth rate of 3 percent while developed countries have their gross domestic products in high millions. The total value of all the produce in Kuwait is of less value compared to all the products in the other countries.

The average oil production per day in 1994 was 2 million. The revenue collected is used to cater to its many different fields amounting to large deficits. Oil revenue accounts for almost half of the gross domestic products in the country, 90 percent of export revenues, and 70 percent of the government’s income. Any effect on the country’s oil and gas supply will greatly affect the countries economy.

Approximately 65 percent of the population is under 25 years and 90 percent of employees in the private sector are Kuwaitis. This means that creating employment for the youth who are the majority.

The history of the development of Kuwait as a nation has been supported by migrant labor from the United States and Europe working as managers and professionals in different fields while blue-collar workers originated from the poorer neighboring countries. Until recently, the government has been dominated by the royal family-the Al Sabah family. (Fadel,1980) Although Kuwait has had a parliament, most of its ministries are controlled by the Al Sabah family. The family’s decisions have been accepted by parliament for a long time but this has begun to change in recent times with individuals from other important families and those unallied to major families as well begin to move into power since political parties are not allowed in the country.

There is a conflict about elections in the country and the degree of democratization they represent. For instance, only one adult in eight is allowed to vote while women voters were not allowed to vote and yet the elections were projected as democratic. Kuwait’s government was also affected by the gulf war which occurred in 1990 resulting in their infrastructure being destroyed by Saddam Hussein and their oil productivity threatened by setting their oil fields on fire.

The war ended in 1991 and Kuwait used most of its reserves to get back to its pre-war conditions. This reconstruction cost Kuwait 70 billion dollars and their reserve was reduced from 100 billion dollars to 30 billion dollars. This war affected their development rate.

Kuwait’s economy is traditionally controlled by the state and its oil industry (Fadel, 1980). As one of the leading oil producers, Kuwait’s economy depends on oil revenues. Kuwait’s economy depended upon pearl-diving for much of its income before it is dependent on oil. It exploited its natural pearl banks during summer and they concentrated on trading as an early occupation. The sheik, a member of the ruling class got 50 percent of the resources collected from oil. Much of this is used in the development and social welfare of the country while the rest is spent by the royal family for enjoyment.

Handelman (2007) says that Kuwait’s health organizations have managed to provide primary health care to all its citizenry but have experienced some shortfalls. These include the increased prevalence of non-communicable diseases. This shows the need for capacity building and investment to strengthen primary health care and to invest in curative rather than preventive measures.

Kuwait’s agriculture is limited by a lack of water and arable land. The government is trying to grow food through hydroponics but most of their food is imported. The arable land that was in the south-central part of the country was destroyed when Iraqi troops set oil fields on fire creating oil lakes; the people practice fishing instead.

The country has lower technology levels which affect the quality of education and efficiency of work programs which are still more manual than computerized thus pushing up costs. Its level of industrialization is also not high meaning that their goods are not popular in the export market apart from oil and job opportunities resulting from the industries are not maximized (Thirwall, 2008)


In conclusion, Kuwait is still not considered a developed country because of its political state as a country that is not very democratic as compared to the already developed countries. The country’s low industrialization and technology levels are limiting the country’s potentiality in terms of reducing expenses and creating more job opportunities while its dependence on imported food is a threat to food security. An increase in population means the revenue collected from oil may not be enough to sustain the country and competition from other oil-producing countries may threaten their economic stability and therefore slow down overall development.


Thirwall, A. P. (2008). Growth and Development: With special reference to developing economies. Third Edition.Schenkman Publishers.Morristown.

Fadel,.Y. (Al Sabah (1980). The Oil Economy Of Kuwait.Routledge Publishers.

Handelman, H. (2007). The Challenge of Third World Development.Fifth Edition. Prentice Hall.

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