Kuwait CEOs buoyant, resilient and confident despite waves of a global recession

KPMG Kuwait’s latest thought leadership KPMG Kuwait CEO Outlook 2022–23 finds that seven in ten CEOs are shunning the possibility of a globally anticipated recession in the country. The report highlights that CEOs are not only confident in terms of Kuwait’s growth prospects but also feel more resilient with regard to the global economy, country, industry and company, compared to 2021.


Dr. Rasheed Al-Qenae launching the Kuwait CEO Outlook before members of the press.

Kuwait, June 2023: CEOs in Kuwait are looking past recent economic slowdowns and are winding up to catapult organizational growth in the three-year horizon (2022–2025). Keeping in mind the factors that led to and rose from such events, KPMG Kuwait launched its latest report KPMG Kuwait CEO Outlook 2022–23: Turning the tide.

The report draws on the perspectives of 1325 global CEOs, including 25 from Kuwait, to provide a detailed overview of their outlook on Kuwait’s economic landscape and insight into their near- and long-term plans. This is the second edition of the KPMG Kuwait CEO Outlook, which was first published in 2021.

The KPMG Kuwait CEO Outlook 2022–23 focuses on four primary themes: (i) economic outlook; (ii) technology; (iii) talent; and (iv) ESG (environment, social and governance). The report projects a stark distinction between some of the global trends and those in Kuwait. The findings indicate that more than 70% of the surveyed CEOs think a recession is unlikely to hit Kuwait in the near future. However, they are not undermining the fact that a potential event would in fact affect their earnings and slow down post-pandemic recovery.

In light of more such contrasting perspectives, KPMG Kuwait interviewed five CEOs from the country to understand how relevant some of the survey findings were to Kuwait. These CEOs were Mr. Raed Jawad Bukhamseen, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, KIB, Eng. Maziad Alharbi, Chief Executive Officer, stc, Mr. Ali H. Khalil, Chief Executive Officer, Markaz, Mr. S.N. Ramachandran, Group Chief Financial Officer, Fouad Alghanim Group, and Mr. Mazen Hawwa, Vice Chairman and Group Chief Executive Officer, United Real Estate Co.

According to the report, 100% of the CEOs are confident in terms of Kuwait’s growth prospects. Echoing this finding, Mr. Mazen Hawwa said, “Looking ahead, I am optimistic about the Kuwaiti market as it actively seeks to create new business sectors within the economy.

The survey results highlight that CEOs are putting more capital toward acquiring new technology to stay competent. In his interview, Eng. Maziad Alharbi justified the trend and said, “A new era of transformation has begun where corporates and governments are more focused than ever on adopting sophisticated technologies and new business strategies that will maintain their competitive positions.

Mr. Ali H. Khalil addressed the elephant in the room, i.e. the rise of emerging technologies as the biggest risk to growth, and said, “As new disruptive technologies become more frequent, the challenge is constantly reviewing and realigning the strategy with such technologies to capture new and relevant trends.

The report points out that despite economic uncertainties, CEOs are still hopeful for M&A driven growth. Talking about the role of M&A in the future, Mr. S.N. Ramachandran said, “I expect 2023 will be an exciting time for M&A, with transformation and transactions at the forefront of value creation strategies.”

The CEOs also underlined that when it comes ESG, the biggest downside of failing to meet stakeholder expectations is higher cost of and/or difficulty in raising finance. Although sustainability is yet to pick up speed in Kuwait, the onus is on major industries to drive the change.

In the report, Mr. Raed Jawad Bukhamseen spoke about the future of sustainable finance in Kuwait and said, “As sustainability takes on increasing global significance, Kuwait aims to position itself as a financial and trade hub by incorporating sustainable finance principles into its banking industry.

KPMG Kuwait CEO Outlook 2022–23: Turning the tide was initially scheduled for a 2022 launch but was pushed to Q2’FY22 to gain an overarching understanding of Kuwait’s economic landscape from the CEOs’ view.

Concluding the event, Dr. Rasheed said, “I am sincerely thankful to the dignitaries for taking the time to participate in our publication and everyone else who helped put this report together.

The launch was conducted in the format of a media roundtable at the Four Seasons Hotel, Kuwait, in the presence of members from the press.