With oil accounting for almost half of the country's gross domestic product, 95 per cent of export earnings, and 79 per cent of government income, it is hardly surprising that the role of the chief executive officer of state oil company, Kuwait Petroleum Company (KPC), is one of the most important and high-profile positions in the country. It is certainly one of the most scrutinised.
In October, the former managing director of state refiner Kuwait National Petroleum Corporation (KNPC), Farouk al-Zanki, was appointed to the post for a fixed term of three years by Kuwait's Emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah, and Prime Minster, Sheikh Nasser Mohamed al-Jaber al-Sabah. Al-Zanki had held the post on an acting basis from the previous month.
The appointment confirms Al-Zanki as one of the most powerful executives in the country.
His qualifications for the job are impeccable. Al-Zanki has enormous experience across some of the most significant areas of Kuwait's oil sector. He will need it. The job he has taken on is loaded with technical, commercial and political challenges.
Former and current KPC executives alike say that Al-Zanki faces a tough task. "It is a hell of a job," says one KPC executive. "Not everyone would want it."
And, if the recent history of the role is anything to go by, Al-Zanki will also need strong political support.
Al-Zanki takes over from …