New Kuwaiti Emir Calls for Unity in Face of Economic Crisis
Kuwait’s new emir, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad, called for national unity in a speech before lawmakers today. Facing economic uncertainty due to falling oil prices, financial liquidity constraints, the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing tensions with Saudi Arabia and Iran, the emir challenged parliamentarians to move forward in unity. “National unity has proven to be our strongest weapon in facing challenges, dangers and crises,” he intoned. Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place later this year. The emir, who took over earlier this month following the death of his predecessor, said Kuwait is facing serious economic challenges. The country’s nearly $140 billion economy has a debt of $46 billion this year. Parliamentary gridlock due to arguments between lawmakers and the cabinet has not enabled the country to utilize its monetary reserves for debt reform. The emir is requesting that lawmakers put aside differences and approve a bill that would allow Kuwait to tap international debt markets. Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, also addressing the legislative session’s opening, asked lawmakers to assist to “diversify revenue sources and rationalize spending and consumption … without detriment to citizens.” Kuwait provides cradle-to-grave welfare services for its citizens.