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‘Our development efforts have made a difference in people’s lives’

Interview - July 2, 2018

Last April 25th, 2018 Mr. Abulwahab Al Bader Director (General of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development) and B&I team had a meeting.



Issue 1: The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED)

The Kuwait Fund was established in 1961 and was the first institution in the Middle East which took an active role in international development cooperation. It has been financing development projects in different countries, not only in Arab countries but other developing countries too. This Fund has been a bridge of friendship and solidarity between Kuwait and developing nations.


  • What are the top initiatives and the main projects that you have lined up for 2018 and what do we have in the pipeline for 2019?

Mr. Abulwahab Al Bader:

There are some urgent commitments that we need to address, especially in some countries in our region. Kuwait hosted the international meeting for development of Iraq, and pledged a commitment of one billion for reconstruction. We are going to start our work and our commitment to our first project and hopefully, it will be decided very soon. We are talking about supporting education, including 73 schools in an undeveloped city. Of course, we are in discussion on what will be next after that. In fact, we have received the proposal for building three hospitals in different areas. We are looking into that too and waiting for the result of the studies. 

We hope to begin implementation this year. At the same time, we have provided a grant, which has not been disbursed yet, and we are planning to spend it on clinics, hospitals in affected areas… On the other hand, we have currently some commitments in Egypt on which we are concentrating, and we will do our best efforts to implement them.


Issue 2: Kuwait as a bridge connecting Arab and international efforts to find mediated solutions and enhance development.


  • Could you please explain to us how you help these nations, to educate them right applying the new law?

Mr. Abulwahab Al Bader:

We help in facilitating what they need the most, and listening to them. We have a saying in Arabic; people of Mecca know the roads better than anybody else. Now, Kuwait Fund is not the only ODA donor in the world, but we are very close and sensitive to people’s feelings within the countries that we do visit. We try always to let them understand that we are coming with no interest whatsoever, but to help.

On the contrary, we do not educate our developing country partners who have the full responsibility for their own development.  We respect their priorities, and share with them our development experiences and provide advice as needed.  However, we follow established procedures to ensure that development operations are done the right way and effective.


  • Please reflect on ongoing KFAED’s efforts to assist Arab and other developing countries in evolving their economies.

Mr. Abulwahab Al Bader:

We have been in this business for the last 57 years, and established recognition of our peers in development cooperation for our role in the provision of development assistance to developing countries across the globe, and gained appreciation of our developing country partners for our support to their development efforts and the achievements of their goals.


  • Would you tell us about your assistance to Egypt in recent years? 

Mr. Abulwahab Al Bader:

We have recently – during the past year and the current year supported 4 projects in Egypt with a total financing of about US$ 370 million, for a Desalination Plant and a Drinking Water Supply project in Al-Areesh, Sharm Elshiekh, a Tunnel Road and another Road project and there are a number of projects in the pipeline. We expect commitments of $200 million in both 2018 and 2019 for financing development projects in Sinai.


Please share your goals for further collaborations plans during 2018 and 2019.

  • Any collaboration you are planning on working with next year?

Mr. Abulwahab Al Bader:

We have plans with Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia, and, of course. Iraq. Also, we have a general program in different countries, especially in Africa.  Many projects have been done over there; we are going to sign up three or four projects very soon in African countries.

At the same time, we see ourselves committing to more projects in Africa, maybe six. As a matter of fact, by Ramadan time, we have to present our projects appraisal program-countries that we plan to visit to appraise projects there, and to consider them for approval. I hope we will be able to sign many projects that allow us to go much further than we went last year, we are committed to reaching a billion dollar in funding. We are hoping to even reach a little bit more than that this year. 


Issue 3: Since Kuwait has been recognized as a center for humanitarian assistance, it needs to communicate actively with the US and other providers of humanitarian assistance.


According to the ONU’s global humanitarian report, the state of Kuwait has always been among the top contributors’ nations worldwide (being the US the first).

  • What do you think that these nations have in common in their international aid strategy? On what synergies do you believe that it could be done?

Mr. Abulwahab Al Bader:

Kuwait has received recognition for its role in development and humanitarian assistance under the leadership of His Highness the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah who has been honored by the United Nations in 2014 as a humanitarian leader and Kuwait as a humanitarian center.

Kuwait works closely with donors around the world and seeks to cooperate with development and humanitarian assistance providers to ensure more harmony in meeting the needs of the people impacted by conflicts and natural disasters, and achieving the synergy underlining harmonization of humanitarian assistance.

Kuwait maintains good relationship with the Untied States, including cooperation in development and humanitarian assistance, in addition to commerce and investments.


According to the 2017 edition of the UN’s “Global Humanitarian Assistance report," several Middle Eastern donors have recently reduced their contributions (Qatar’s -57%, Saudi Arabia -26% and Kuwait -50%).

  • Could you please explain to us what are the reasons behind this regional adjustment?

Mr. Abulwahab Al Bader:

Depending on how you calculate these amounts, and on what basis.

Kuwait remained among the top 20 donors providing the most humanitarian assistance as a percentage of GNI in 2016.  It ranked fifth, with a GNI percentage of 0.13% as mentioned in the UN 2017 report on humanitarian aid.


Issue 4: Your Background and Priorities as Director General of the KFAED.

Mr. Abdulwahab Ahmad Al-Bader serves as the Director General of Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. He joined the Kuwait Fund in 1977 as an Economist, before becoming a Director of Operations in 1983. After this, he was promoted to Deputy Director-General of Operations in 1986 and then Deputy Director-General in 1988 before taking his current position in 2005. He has a BA in Economics.


  • Please discuss your professional background and how it influenced your agenda as Director General of the KFAED.

Mr. Abulwahab Al Bader:

I have been working at the Fund for the last 40 years.  I enjoyed my work very much and I still do.  It gives me great satisfaction to be working in full harmony with my colleagues, and to be dedicated to helping our developing country partners.

There is nothing more rewarding to me than realizing that our development efforts have made a difference in the lives of peoples, and have given them the opportunity for better living conditions, and have helped in lifting them from poverty, and afforded them more opportunities for employment, and higher incomes.


Please share a final message about doing business in Kuwait with the influential readers of The Washington Post.

Aid-giving is a gratifying experience, and I guess it has been noted now even by businessmen Bill and Melinda Gates, for example. Now is a trend to give and help, this trend is rising and many of those business people are becoming more responsive to CSR initiatives and aid. It is such an enjoyable business. It fulfills you with gratitude, nothing can compare to seeing happiness in the eyes of other people. Nothing is compared to that. Happiness enriches you as a person. I greatly understand and appreciate those people working with NGOs.