All posts by Intlxpatr

The Patience of Ayoub (Job)

emir tv speech.jpg

HH The Emir

We share more commonalities than differences. Getting democracies up and running isn’t such an easy task. All countries wrestle with the same issues – how to create laws that protect both majority rights and minority rights? How to restrain those in power, so that they may serve those they were elected to serve?

Many look at positions of power and think “How glorious! What fun it must be to be the President/ Emir / Minister! Their lives are full of parties and grand openings! They live to give speeches! I could do that!” What people don’t see is the true nature of leadership. The life of your Emir is filled with self-sacrifice. His leadership is a holy thing; a burden – he is the leader and servant of all his people.

I remember studying politics in college, to my surprise one of my professors informed us that Communism was the most efficient system for bringing chaotic political systems into order. The brutal infliction of communism on a nation does, indeed, bring order and institutions . . . until that system crumbles under it’s own weight, as do most totalitarian regimes.

It would be so easy to be a benevolent dictator. It would be so easy to rule a country, and to focus your resources on education, health care, roads, electricity, water and developing trade. Your Emir has chosen the harder path – leading his citizens to participate in the rule of the country.

It is a much more difficult challenge to bring citizens to responsible self-rule. Your Emir has the patience of Job; he has endured the antics and intricate dances of his House of Parliament with enormous endurance, allowing all the foolishness to play itself out on the Parliamentary stage. It is this servant, this Amir’s responsibility to ensure that his nation survives. It can only be with enormous sadness that he must – once again – dissolve the Parliament and call for new elections, hoping beyond hope that the newly elected will have a sense of responsibility and self-discipline to take the place of the posturing egoists in the current Parliament.

I cannot begin to imagine the cloak of responsibility that settled on his shoulders when he accepted the Emir-ship, just over three years ago. While he has his wise counselors, it must be an enormous weight on his shoulders, and ultimately, by the Grace of God, it is he who must make the most painful decisions for the greater good of his nation and its people.

The citizen also has a duty, a duty to look beyond selfish personal needs and to identify the greater needs of society. He or she have an obligation to fully analyze their candidates, to discover whether they are somber, balanced lawmakers – who deliberate, who seek consensus – as opposed to individuals eager for position, backed by delcarations of empty promises, who dance, posture, and bring shame to the position of Member of Parliament.

Your Emir on a daily basis takes on the great burden of managing a vast, complex nation. In return – and this is such a small thing – you should treasure your vote and cast it wisely.

Smile For Me Baby – Let Me See Your Grill!


I admit it, I try to stay neutral, but I can’t. I know I am not Kuwaiti. It’s your country. And yet I live here, and the decisions and choices you make affect me, so now and then, even though I bite my tongue, something squeaks out.

I’m fussy about words. I hate the word “grill”, I hate the way it is used by politicians, I hate the way it is used by all the newspapers. To me, “grilling someone” has a disrespectful connotation. I hear “grill” and I see a group of porky pols dancing with glee while their intended victim is trussed and spitted, with a big red apple in his/her mouth, being turned over a roaring fire. It is an ugly picture. It is disrespectful.

Have some dignity. The people voted for you, Mr. Minister of Parliament, they put their trust in you. Here is what people need: They need housing. They need reliable sources of food. They need reliable electricity and water, they need reliable roads on which they can get to work. They need sensible laws which are approved by a majority, while keeping in mind the protection of the minorities. They need laws that benefit the majority, and they need those laws enforced equitably. They need government without the necessity of bribes, or knowing the right person to get the visa, work permit, import permit, stamp, etc. They need respect, and they expect YOU to set the example.

The people, Kuwaiti and non-Kuwaiti, need respect. Respect is not alleviating people of their debts; they were grown ups and signed the papers. Respect is looking to the future, preparing for the day when the oil no longer flows.

Disrespect for the people is posturing and making ridiculous accusations, rushing to buy the newspaper when it comes out to see if your accusation made the headlines.

Disrespect is calling for the resignation of the Education Minister when a deranged former prisoner streaks naked through a classroom, when that minister is trying to upgrade a seriously degraded education system.

Disrespect is making promises to people that you can’t keep, and promises that treat the citizens like welfare recipients and not people of a long and proud merchant and trading tradition.

Disrespect is making laws that “protect” women, while putting barriers in their way, preventing their ability to compete equally for jobs and pay and citizenship for their children.

Here is the way grown-ups solve problems: they negotiate. They ask questions. And after they have asked a question, they listen to the answer. Good government by the people involves a lot of give and take, it involves flexibility, it involves respect for your neighbor and his or her beliefs. It requires looking for inclusive solutions.

The current buzz is that Parliament will once again be dissolved. I can only imagine that the Emir would choose to do that only as a very last resort, and with a sickened heart; sick that elected officials cannot get on with the work of government and must be sent to “time out” like a group of naughty children.

Put away your grills. Dig deep, dig up the manners you were taught as proud Kuwaitis. Man up. Kuwait needs ministerial leadership willing to make the tough calls to get them through the current crisis and to plan for a long and abundant future.

I am not Kuwaiti – and living here, I have met some of the most amazing and wonderful Kuwaitis, people in whom I have the utmost confidence Kuwait has a promising future. I meet people who care about Kuwait passionately, who are raising their own children with care and attention, and who are looking at the big picture.

Change can happen. Change can truly happen in Kuwait. It can only happen if people of good will meet together, listen to one another, and break this gridlock, break this stalemate. To move forward will require new thinking, new faith in one another and in the transparent processes. It can be done. 🙂 Yes, it can.