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.

10 thoughts on “Smile For Me Baby – Let Me See Your Grill!

  1. Well said. I feel sad at the state of our country. i hope that soon we will be able to see it rising to its full potential.

  2. Intlxpatr, Your post was an excellent straight-from-the-heart piece about the sad state of affairs, it was impartial, highlighting the negative actions on both sides, truly passionate and ultimately about the spirit of the citizen moving forward in against the juggernaut of all the political plagues suffocating this country.
    Thanks for your contribution to the Blog – I’m glad the ‘Hilaliya’ umbrella managed to spark such a great, candid post. And always keep them coming.

  3. intlxpatr
    Here’s a typical response you could expect on some other blogs, or maybe even on yours
    I’m kidding of course, and I truly appreciate every word you said. I hear this a lot from my many non-Kuwaiti friends who live among us, and sometimes I just want to cry out of embarrassment… that you guys seem to care more about our beleaguered country than we do!
    PS: Cool post title!!

  4. Great Article. Those guys should all get together, talk it over, agree, exchange a few gifts, and leave us poor disillusioned peasants alone.

  5. ‘The Diwaniya’ Opens Its Doors, More Visitors Incoming

    We’ve had a great new ‘Diwaniya’ relaunch for the blog, the ‘Guest Contributors’ have done a stellar job so far. We’ve had an entertaining piece by Don Veto (‘Things People Carry As ‘Baggage’ When Travelling’), a politically passionate one…

  6. Change can happen…but who’s stopping it. Definitely not the Kuwaiti people…you can feel it in the air that everyone wants change in some form or the other…so what or who is stopping it??
    Is it from within or is it from across the borders…maybe there are vested interests who want to see the experiment on this side of the border no succeeding, as they will have to follow suit..Just a theory..!! The outsider’s view…

  7. The status quo in Kuwait defintely benefits a certain core now – any change, any opening up: freeing land, foreign direct investment, liberalization of economic and social laws etc – will lead to competition and no ‘guaranteed tenders’ or ‘deals’ for many.
    They like it the way it is now: one or two airlines, limited phone companies, land under government control, bureacracy etc – as long as everyone else has a tough time embarking on something, they are fine.

  8. Zeydoun – Yeh, I’ve had similar comments a time or two. It makes me very careful about which issues I tackle.
    Kuwait is an easy country to care about. Good people, all the potential in the world – I think things will come unstuck and there will be another period of paradise in Kuwait, a la 1970’s, with a youthful group leading the way.

  9. Am an expat myself.. I hail from the Indian subcont.. we have our fair share of problems in our country and given its sheer size and complexity – we hardly can bring about dynamic change overnite…
    but what is stopping kuwait from doing so.. you are blessed with abundant wealth, stability and a young population – why are you letting your generation miss out on this opportunity???
    there is so much you can do.. so much..

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