The State of Kuwait (Dawlat al-Kuwayt) has a land area of 17,820 square km of which only 0.6% is arable. Kuwait is one of the most urbanized countries in the world with over 98% of its population of 2,863,000 living in cities. The country’s per capita GDP was estimated at US$54,260 in 2010, with an economy dominated by petroleum, which accounts for more than 40% of nominal GDP and 95% of export income. A 5-year strategic economic development plan (2009-2013) was proposed to diversify the economy by attracting investments and encouraging private sector participation to turn Kuwait into a regional trade and financial hub. Economic diversification is key to sustaining Kuwait’s economy and will depend on increased growth in non-oil sectors. However, poor soils and harsh climatic conditions render agriculture as one of the worst performing sectors, with a contribution to the national economy of less than 1%, leading to a heavy dependence on food imports. Water resources are scarce and groundwater is rapidly depreciating due to overextraction. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Kuwait has three major land systems: the desert, the Al-Jahra oasis and the offshore islands. Kuwait is mainly flat with slightly undulating desert plains sloping gently towards the northeast. The country’s soils are of sedimentary origin consisting of limestone, dolomite, anhydrite, clays, gypsums and marls. Kuwait’s arid land coupled with its flat landscape puts it at risk of floods, desertification, and sand and dust storms. Increased severity and harsh climatic conditions might increase the formation of sand dunes, sand encroachment and dust storms. Kuwait has the highest rates of dusty days in the Gulf region. Natural hazard risks are all likely to increase in intensity and severity with climate change.
Selected Indicators for Impacts and Vulnerabilities