Thursday, November 17, 2011

Free Zone: A Desolate Wasteland?

I haven't been to the Kuwait Free Trade Zone in a long time; I used to work in a company there from 2005-2007.

Since then, many coffee shops and restaurants opened, the area thrived with bustling movement.

Then, one day, the governent closed all F&B related businesses, since it was not allowed to open such a business there.

Wait.... what?!

Then how did Burger King, Starbucks, Cafe Supreme, and the other cafes open?!

Then we found out that many of the other businesses (contracting, investment, services etc) were operating illegally too.

The concept of a free zone in Kuwait is simply rent an office space in this area as an alternative to Kuwait City, Salmiya or Hawalli. But it does not conform to the real definition of a free zone; attracting foreign investment, encouraging the establishment of new types of firms, have low taxes incentives to increase development.

I was there to meet with someone at a bank for my company's business; and I saw what seemed to be a ghost town. Long gone are the days of the busy hustle and traffic... all I saw were shells of closed businesses and abandoned office parks.

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