Arabesque Kafkaesque, Or: How Fed-Ex, Customs & Health Ministry Taught Me To Chase My ‘Specimen’


On Christmas Day, I had my brother send me some medications from the United States through Fed-Ex. When the package was late, I attributed it to the holiday rush. When ‘late’ turned into ‘very late’ and the website clearly showed the package was in Kuwait, we started calling them on a daily basis and every time we would got the same answer: “Customs took them for inspection and when they give us a specimen number we will call you.”

A “specimen number“! Sounded like a Sci-Fi movie line. I had been receiving my medications from the U.S. for ten years through Fed-Ex and never had this happen to me before except for that one time during the war on Saddam a few years back.

January 11th – There is still no “specimen number.” I lost hope so I reordered them through my doctor there.

January 14th – Called them again and finally at 7.30 p.m. I got my number – almost screamed out ‘Bingo!’ even though I never played the game. Bear in mind that I was the one who called (‘customer care’ being such a cliché’) and it was a Thursday so nothing could be done until Sunday morning.

I was told to go to the Ministry of Health, the ‘Drug Inspection Department’ near Sabah Hospital where I can collect my “specimen”.

January 17th – Finally we hit Sunday. Woke up early, no breakfast, rushed out to avoid traffic and after a few wrong turns I was there at 8.20 a.m. It was a Department all right, more like a low ceiling three room apartment. It was a “chabra” literally like the ones they put temporarily for engineers at a building site. As I entered the door I couldn’t help but notice the pieces of glued grey thin carpet on the corridor floor. To my left was a closed door with a ‘Parcels’ sign on it. Next to it was a window counter with a man wearing a lab coat.

“Where can I get my Fed-Ex parcel?” He pointed to the door next to him.

“But it’s locked,” I said. He came out and said “Wait shwaya, he’ll be back” referring to the man ‘in charge of parcels’.

Can’t you call him?” I asked.

“No mobile.”

I waited, and waited, shifting from one foot to the other trying to hold on to my favorite but extremely heavy bag resisting the urge to place it on such an ugly, filthy floor.

My legs seemed fast asleep even though I didn’t get more than 4 hours of sleep that night. I had to sit. No sign of any chair around, so I decided to explore. There were three or four rooms to the right and one more to the left. I peeked through one and saw a woman working behind a desk in a minute room with two chairs placed in a straight line near the door. I asked her if I could sit and she welcomed me in. The chair was of the old black leathery dusty variety, with a folded table attached; the kind used for students. Why would they place such a chair there is beyond me. The room, like all the others, had rubber floorings of something like a tile design. (A bit of mix and match decor with the dinghy carpeted hall I guess!).

As I glanced around, my eyes widened in astonishment; I saw their method of file storage: a large Fed-Ex box. a used, old torn half-cut Fed-Ex box. Even the logo tape was struggling to hold on to the sides of the box. That was only one of many of the collections of carton boxes used for storage on the floor.

Then I heard a woman complaining to a man, also wearing a lab coat, that she has no “specimen number” only her Fed-Ex paper and I knew it was my queue. I followed her and the man who finally opened the sacred ‘Parcels’ room. I couldn’t believe it. It was so minute that if you were claustrophobic you would have suffocated with the three of us in there. To the left was a glass cabinet where all the small parcels were and on the floor were all the bigger boxes. The man was very helpful trying to match the woman’s name to any of the numbers he had in his big lined notebook (or as we call it “kashkool”). Don’t even think the word computer is going to show up here – we are talking 1965 stuff here, folks.

He looked at his ledger, shaking his head in dismay.

Numbers 1 to 19 all had names and their parcels had arrived.

Numbers 20 to 30 had no names and no parcels (i.e. blank pages).

Numbers 30 to 40 contained names and parcels.

As the woman talked to the Fed-Ex office pleading for a “specimen number” so she could take her post-surgery meds, the man found my name one number below my given one.

The parcel was stacked with others in the stuffy glass cabinet. Thank God it was not August otherwise I would have needed meds to recover from my expired meds! Just when I thought I was done, he looked at me with a sympathetic smile, “Sorry can’t give you without a prescription”.

I was shocked.

Well I don’t have it with me now! I do have it somewhere at home” then I stopped myself before blurting out “I think“. So he motioned me to follow him. We walked until the door at the end of the corridor leading to a considerably large room. There was a woman behind a desk inside that spacious room where scented candles were lit. She was so into her pink laptop that she did not even lift her eyes to look at me as she answered my “salam“. Eye contact was wishful thinking. So I decided not to even bother explaining anything to her.

The man explained the problem, assuring her I had the prescription paper at home as he placed the form near her laptop. She took one glance (at the paper of course), nodded, and gave her approval.

I was so relieved my parcel hunt was over but even more relieved to leave that place. It was yet another reminder of our reality when we are supposed to be one of the richest countries in the world and still have decrepit systems and processes in place, not to mention surroundings.

I’ll write again when my next “specimen” arrives and Fed-Ex kindly inform me where to pick it up (Door to Door 2010 style). That is if they ever let my meds through after today.

‘Kuwait Times’: Govt Attempts To Censor Blogs ‘Unacceptable’

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Govt Attempts To Censor Blogs ‘Unacceptable’

By Ahmad Saeid, Staff Writer

Reprinted from ‘Kuwait Times’ (4th January, 2010)

KUWAIT : A number of Kuwaiti bloggers said that government’s attempt to impose censorship on blogs is unacceptable and unrealistic. The comments were made amidst expectations of the government’s plan to amend the ‘audio-visual Law’ after a TV show on the Al-Soor channel caused a wave of outrage amongst Kuwaiti tribes. “It was only a matter of time before these restrictions were imposed on bloggers,” said Amer Hilal Al-Mutairi, a Kuwaiti blogger. He added that the government has been waiting for the right excuse to strengthen its grip on the blogging community.

The minister of information is using the instability caused by the programs aired on those two TV channels, and the whole issue of national unity, as means to impose restrictions on bloggers,” said Al-Mutairi.

While he agreed that there is a group of MPs who support freedom of expression Al-Mutairi noted that some Parliamentarians have double standards about this issue. “I think that, unfortunately, a large group of MPs support the media when it speaks favorably of them and discard the media when it criticizes them,” he said.

Muhammad Al-Yousifi, another Kuwaiti blogger, said that the government has been wanting to place restrictions on bloggers for some time now. “They have been wanting to do this since the scandal of changing the electoral districts in 2006,” he said. “They only got the chance to do it now with this Parliament which is mostly ‘governmental.’ Especially since a number of bloggers are now attacking MPs.

Al-Yousifi said that the law is “more laughable than it is scary” both because of the motive to monitor blogs, and the process of monitoring blogs itself. “How do they want to conduct this censorship? They can’t do it, they physically can’t do this,” he said.

Abdul Aziz Al-Ateeqi, Kuwaiti blogger and a co-founder of the biggest blogging aggregation website in the Middle East, ‘,’ said Online Casino that it will be very difficult for the government to censor or block blogs because most of the servers that contain these blogs are outside Kuwait . They don’t fall under the jurisdiction of Kuwaiti law. “Even if they are willing to block them, people can still access them via proxies. Governments cannot stop that and cannot identify those who access them,” he said.

Al-Ateeqi also pointed out that there is a huge misunderstanding about what blogs are among Kuwaiti people in general. “Blogs are a micro prototype of Kuwaiti society. They are like diwaniyas. People speak what they think in them and if someone is [upset] by a Member of Parliament he will write his feelings in his blog. These views and feelings are varying and they are about different subjects. Political blogs are less than 15 percent of the whole blogosphere of Kuwait .

The issue of freedom of expression has been dwelled on for the past few years in Kuwait . The Amir of Kuwait, HH Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, has repeatedly urged local media to adopt more responsible measures of tackling delicate subjects such as national unity.

Minister of Information, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah, is still under fire from the National Assembly (NA) after a number of MPs demanded the closure of the Al-Soor channel. They accused the Minister of allowing the channel to broadcast without proper permission. A number of MPs announced they will file an interpellation motion against the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah if he does not fire the Minister.

Last October however, some of those same MPs held a number of demonstrations where they claimed the government was not doing enough to protect the freedom of expression. The demonstrations occurred after the publisher of an online newspaper, Zaed Al-Zaed, was attacked by an anonymous man. Kuwait occupies the 60th position on the Press Freedom Index issued by media freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders. It is also the highest ranking Arab country on that index.

فضيحة ساحة الارادة

بدون مقدمات … اليكم المشاهد المؤلمة في حق الكويت والكويتيين

أترك التعليق لكم

The Many Tentacles Of Kuwait’s ‘Kleptocracy’


Kleptocracy is a form of political corruption that refers to a state in which politicians exploit natural resources in order to stay in power. Does that sound similar to something that’s been happening in Kuwait these days?

To answer “Yes” would be to disregard the nature of Kuwait’s society as an Arab and Muslim caretaker ethos.

It is written in our Holy Book as Muslims that people should spend their wealth towards the benefit of the larger society whenever they can. Religiously, it’s Zakat, where the Muslims pay their annual tax either directly to people in need (at the discretion of the Zakat payer)or in some cases towards a central collections authority that then distributes it to betterment of the society, by way of social development, through schools, hospitals, mosques, homes, etc…Wealthy people with hearts of gold race each other to build something that would benefit society, especially in Kuwait. Examples range from renovating hospital wards, building schools, educational endowments and scholarships, all the way to providing free housing and job opportunities.

To answer “NO” would be to ignore the fact that Kuwait’s wealth is solely built upon one natural resource: Oil.

This resource is controlled by the state, its production and sale is controlled by the state, and the revenue it generates is distributed by the state, the distribution process is performed by way of paid salaries, social allowances and benefits. There is no “Free Money” in the Government’s Monetary cycle. This means that anyone who works for the state will earn enough money to stay safe and housed, but would never earn enough money to become rich enough to run for political office.

So the first question in this logic is, how does a Kuwaiti Politician become a Kleptocrat in a supposed Democracy?

The First route is the simplest: Active Networking. You make enough friends and acquaintances to build a large enough network of supporters that would vote you into office. How that happens is too lengthy for this post, but think “Tribal/Sectarian/Primary Elections” and you get the picture. They would then support you financially and politically.

The Second route is more difficult: Passive Networking. You build up your reputation as a capable and fierce supporter of justice and equality so much that it becomes visible to the masses, who will turn towards you for assistance and guidance. You then make your way up to the top, only this time it’s due to your hard work and reputation, not your connections and affiliations. This is a textbook example of how a Democracy should be held; the power of the people would select the most ideal candidate to represent them, based on principles, morale standing and reputation.

The Third route is Nomination: An individual or a group would appoint you as their representative, and would then mobilize all of their resources to support you into office. Once there, you’d be doing their bidding as their representative in Government. It’s closely connected to Active Networking, but without the means nor the skills to to so. This may be acceptable in may Democracies, especially where Political parties and affiliations are admissible.

The Fourth route is Hereditary: You’re born into government and rule by association. Examples include Kingdoms, Sheikhdoms and hereditary Republics. Your Mommy or Daddy ruled over everyone, and when they die, their authority reverts to you, barring the presence of any legal framework that would prevent, undermine or limit the extent your authority (such as a Constitution).

The Fifth and Final route is Money: You buy your way into Politics. This is the most corrupt and dangerous route into politics. Your constituents are composed of paid mouths who will sing your praises for a fee, or people already in power that you have packed into your shirt pocket, or legal representatives who will manipulate the Law in order to facilitate your ascension to Political power.

In this context, consider all the present Members of Parliament and the Government currently in office, would any of them fall under a different category? Hardly! Some of them are an actual and clear embodiment of some or all of these descriptions.

Case in Point: HADAS, Salafists, Popular Action Bloc, National Democratic Alliance, they’re all political affiliations and de-facto political parties who nominate the most suitable candidate from among them and support this candidate into office to represent them. The problem is, these parties do not enjoy the benefit of a legal acknowledgement under the current Kuwaiti Law, nor do they represent the masses in terms of their political agenda, but, rather simply, they enjoy the generalized affiliation of the masses who have shared principles and the perceived moral standing of their members.

In other words, “I’m a Salafist, so I’ll vote for XX the Salafist in my constituency“, or “I’ve taken out a large Bank Loan, so I’ll vote for the Popular Action Bloc whose agenda will force the Government to write off all Consumer Loans“. Generally speaking, it’s as simple as that!

On the other had, those in Government, namely those in the “Hereditary” offices, will strive to protect their personal and political interests from those that strive to attack them, so they utilize their wealth and political power in order to attain their goals. Currently, MP Faisal Al Muslim is trying to prove this is the case with the Prime Minister.

MP Al Muslim raises a difficult question: If you’re not from a wealthy merchant family, but you’ve managed to use your personal wealth to protect your political position in Government, taking into account that you’re only source of income ‘should have been’ your salary, how can you afford to spend so much money to protect your interests? But the MP raises yet another question: If you’ve risen only from among the masses within your tribal, sectarian or regular connections – who support and assist your endeavors – what gives you the right to attack the Prime Minister in the name of the People with documents you’ve obtained under shady circumstances?! I believe that MP Al Muslim was trying to prove that the Prime Minister was a Kleptocrat, who usurps his position, power and wealth in order to control and manipulate the Parliament.

As a person who has intimate knowledge of the Kuwaiti Banking Sector, I’m fully aware of the legal penalties that entail the exposure of private information and/or documents within the Bank; I have seen, first-hand, what happens to people who do ‘these things’, willingly or otherwise. Not only is it in complete violation of the employee’s contract with the bank, let alone sickeningly unprofessional, but more seriously, it’s a betrayal of the employer, the people and shareholders you work for, and may well get you into prison, destroying your reputation completely without even the slightest chance of redemption.

Constitutionally, if proven correct, the documents pertinent to this case allude to a clause within Article 111 of the Kuwaiti Constitution, which states:

“Article 111: Except in cases of flagrante delicto, no measures of inquiry, search, arrest, detention, or any other penal measure may be taken against a member while the Assembly is in session, except with the authorisation of the Assembly.” (“Flagrante delicto” means “Caught in the act of a misdeed”).

I’m no lawyer, but I imagine that if it’s proven that the documents in MP Al Muslim’s possession are authentic, it stands to reason that they have reached him via unauthorized means, which means clearly he’s caught red-handed in the crime of possessing private and personal documents. Moreover, he would also be guilty of committing a crime by association of the person who had given him these documents in the first place, and if both these crimes are proven against MP Al Muslim in court, they make the case against the Prime Minster completely illegal since the evidence against him was obtained illegally, and is therefore inadmissible in court.

What remains in question is where did the money came from? Let’s assume I’m one of those tree-hugging-love all-live all-people who claim that if it were from the Prime Minister’s personal funds, then so be it; he’s a kind-hearted person who likes to spend his wealth helping people (and it’s his personal wealth that he’s using) so any suspicion of misusing public funds gets thrown out the window. But then again, why pay an MP (he did not run for reelection this time) when that person has no clear use for that amount of money? His income is secured by way of his pension from the Parliament, so he’s pretty well financed and secured. Moreover, many former MP’s become board members of private companies, with very beefy salaries, or revert back to the family business, if one exists. So what’s this payment all about?

And finally, what gives MP Al Muslim – a representative of the people – the right to use illegally obtained documents as ‘evidence’ against the Prime Minister’s ”misuse of public funds”? If anything, this case proves what I’ve been blogging about all along; Proper reforms come from proper voting. Representation should be based on holistic needs and demands, not sectarian nor tribal agendas. MP Al Muslim may have shocked the state’s perceptions of the extent of corruption, some may say, but others may also claim that he’s unsuccessfully tried to prove what we all know; People in Power are liable to be corrupt, no matter what side of the law they may be standing on. His Immunity as an MP made him believe he’s untouchable, while simultaneously trying to prove the same about the Prime Minister.

Power corrupts – and absolute power corrupts absolutely – and that goes for MP Al Muslim too!

حزمني يا

كنت أود الكتابة عن موضوع (شيك) فيصل المسلم و(هوايف) النائب الفاضل هايف في مدونتي ولكن وجدت مدونة الهلالية أفضل مكان .. على الاقل لو صار شي (لاسمح الله) يمسكونه اهو مو أنا .. اتغشمر ندخل في صلب الموضوع وعلى طول .. شيك فيصل و(موسيقة) هايف .. وين بوصلون الكويت ؟ شنو المشاريع والتنمية اللي كانت بتصير بالبلد وهالامرين وقفوا في طريقهم ؟ قرأت عدة تحليلات لعدد من المدونين بعضهم يصب جام غضبه على النائب فيصل والبعض الاخر يطالب باستقالة ناصر المحمد .. والغريب ان البعض الاخر ينادي بحل المجلس وهو مجرد امر وقتي لا اكثر قد يكون خلال اسبوع او حتى شهر ولكن للتأكيد فقط انه لن يستمر اكثر من ذلك سمو الامير وعبر رسالته قبيل حل المجلس اعطى انذارا صريحا للنواب بما يفيد انها الفرصة الاخيرة لهم .. واعطى سموه الثقة بناصر المحمد مرة اخرى واليوم يعود النواب الى مشكلتهم السطحية ومنها شيك .. موسيقى .. تطعيم .. حج .. عمرة .. سفرة ؟ أين مطار الكويت الجديد من اجندتهم ؟ اين الاسكان ؟ اين التوظيف والتطوير والتأهيل المدني ؟ أين التعليم ؟ أين الرياضة ؟ لو جلست خمس دقائق اخرى بالتفكير لما انتهيت من (اين) في البحث عن العديد من الاشياء التي تفتقدها الكويت اليوم والتي تحتاج فعلا الى رجال ولكن ليش نحط الغلط كله على النواب ؟ نسأل نفسنا سؤال صارلنا عشر سنين نسأله وراح نسأله عشر سنين جدام ويمكن 100 سنة جدام … في كل مرة ننتخب فيها نقول الكويت اولا … ونقول هالمرة صوتي بعطيه للافضل .. وهالمرة وهالمرة وهالمرة !!! شنو مانتعلم ؟ مخرجات النواب اللي عندنا بدون ذكر اسماء مخرجات تفشل !! والعيب على الشعب اللي مختارها طمعا في حصولهم على واسطات وخدمات لاحصر لها عيب اني اقول اتمنى حل المجلس نهائيا بس اللي اشوفه ان دام هايف دخل موضوع (المايوه) في المضو فاطالب حل المجلس حلا نهائي


To Medically Err Is Human; Pointing A Futile Finger


Give me a month. Any given month, just one month without a horror story, give me a month in which no one makes a medical error, one month in which we don’t hear about some person’s horror story at the hands of evil doctors and the henchmen in nurse’s outfits.

Chances are you can’t, because there aren’t any. Medical errors are seemingly inevitable, they have to happen, just like car accidents and farting in public, mistakes happen. They are part and parcel of having healthcare. After all; unlike the airline industry and the people who make the iphone we don’t really have a blueprint or a service manual.

This is why I’m using the bible of all medical error literature to date – and the keystone of America’s healthcare revolution – to prove my point. The U.S. Institute of Medicine white paper entitled “To Err is Human ….” estimates that between 44,000 and 98,000 people die from medical errors in the US annually. That’s more than the people heart attacks and strokes combined kill in Kuwait and is more than those who are killed by breast cancer in the US.

Having said that the study was written in 1999 and the number would probably be three times as high this year if it weren’t for the boffins who wrote the document and forced people to follow it.

There’s another reason why I chose this study, it’s because we have the same problem as the US. We have lots of doctors, lots of hospitals/practices and not enough oversight (three exams make you registered to practice, 2 more make you a specialist in the US and you can do all five without looking at a patient) so I figured their answer would be ours. After all, we’ve imported everything from ketchup to coffee chains and managed to make them work, might as well do the same for policy; besides we know it works because they’ve managed to reduce medical errors to about 10% of the original number over ten years.

The study looked into every major medical error, every big lawsuit and settlement and every single post mortem they could find and came up with the following:

  • They found that medical errors occur in three stages: failure to diagnose (wrong tests, wrong timing of tests, old and redundant tests), failure in treatment(delay in treatment, lack of drugs, technical error during a procedure) and failure in prevention (lack of patient follow-up, lack of foresight given patients current condition)
  • Creating a nationwide program for leadership, research, tools, and protocols to enhance the knowledge base about safety and patient awareness. In other words, integrating administration into day to day healthcare and making it part and parcel of the practice of medicine.
  • Developing a nationwide public mandatory reporting system and by encouraging health care organi­zations and practitioners to develop and participate in voluntary reporting systems meaning that you need to report any problems you face without being blamed for them directly and providing the manpower required to piece together the sequence of the events that lead to the problem.
  • Providing standards to adhere to and aspire to within each branch of healthcare. As it stands we don’t provide doctors with job descriptions when they are hired, only a set of arbitrary rules.
  • Putting in place safety systems in health care organizations to ensure safe practices at the delivery level.

The point I’m trying to make with this whole post is the fact that in all of the above not a single doctor/nurse/security guard was beaten, sued or had his license stripped. If anything the strategy outlined tell you to go back and hold yourself accountable for what you’ve done and find out where you went wrong and how to fix it then share what you’ve learnt with the people you work with so that the same mistake doesn’t happen again.

I am quick to point out however that the study doesn’t condone negligence in which someone has made a deliberate error that they should not have (i.e. cutting a nerve because it simplifies the surgery or giving a patient an overdose so that they sleep and leave you alone for the night only to find them not breathing in the morning).

So perhaps the newspaper stories, TV interviews and patient export program may not be quiet as effective (or affective ….still can’t tell the difference) as teaching medical students and doctors in training to review medications they’ve given and procedures they’ve performed and sharing their experiences with their colleagues………

Oh well …I’m not holding my breath…

The Study mentioned can be found on Google books but be for-warned it’s about 300 pages long …….

On Kuwait Politicians and Windex

I’d like to thank Hilaliya for letting me post in his website and promise and do solemnly swear not to use words like ‘slut’, ‘prick’, ‘shit’, ‘bastard’, ‘tits’, or ‘whore’, ‘hooker’, ‘slut’ (twice ….. apologies ……), ‘bitch’, ‘hoo hoo’, ‘pee pee’ or ‘prick.’

It’s very hard for us as Kuwaitis and as humans in fact to live without politics and politicians. For one thing we wouldn’t have anything to complain about or anyone to blame and lets face it our parents would have very little to do at family gatherings if it weren’t for these close-minded, hypocritical, lying, cheating, corrupt and lurid men (and recently women) who we have chosen to represent us and our stake in the country we live in.

Sadly, however as with most things involving money, power and the public eye, politics has become a foray for those of us who are smart – for the most part, some can’t write their names yet but it’s still early and I doubt that the people who voted for him know the significance of literacy in the modern world – have scrupulous and rather mercurial morals.

So how do we fix our politicians? (And no I do not mean neuter them – although the idea may appeal to some; it is simply not a solution in the civilized world).

How do we make them represent us the way they should and promised? Unlike the cure for cancer, the flying car or cloning, not even Hollywood could come up with an answer…politicians can’t be fixed because they didn’t get into politics to change things, they got into politics to become famous and gain respect.

And they can’t be held accountable because no one can…lets face it, I’ve never been held accountable for a single unpaid bill or parking ticket and neither have you. We even have people who have been convicted of manslaughter in the US and are living happy k-town-esque lives and we enjoy our freedom to bypass rules, get things done quickly and forget about that speeding ticket.

So what solution could we possible come up with? (Before you ask, truth serum doesn’t work)

The answer apparently lies in cleanliness and lemon scented Windex…According to Professor Liljenquist of some University I’ve never heard of morals are largely dictated by how fresh the place smells….ugh…She compared how likely people were to be charitable in a Windex scented room and in a standard one and found that people were about twice as likely to be charitable and morally bound if you provided them with a clean environment.

But the trouble with that – apart from the fact that it sounds like hogwash – is that knowing the people within our current “Majless,” they’ll probably end up killing each other for the government tender to provide lemon scented, morally assured freshness in their meeting hall.

Kuwait’s ‘Islamic’ Dictatorship


Kuwait has been an official state since it’s independence from Great Britain in 1961, further back it was an official political entity since the 1922 Treaty of Uqair. Even further back during the 18th Century, it was a thriving sea port for the busy spice trade between East and West, and even before that, during the 17th Century, it started as a settlement for Bedouin tribes seeking refuge from massive seasonal drought around the Arabian Peninsula. Indeed, the earliest recorded history of the State of Kuwait goes back to the year 1613.

Throughout Kuwait’s history, no religious animosity was demonstrated, no sectarian bigotry was recorded, and indeed, no religious affiliations were bragged about, until Oil created wealth, which in turn created education, which was (at the time) heavily influenced with Arabism and Pan-Arab ideals and values.

Kuwaitis thrived on their own self-disciplined tolerance and peaceful co-existence, not just with themselves, but with other people as well. When the Saudi Monarch Abdulaziz Ibn Saud and his family were overthrown by the Al Rasheed, they sought refuge in Kuwait. When Sa’adun Pasha, leader of the Muntafiq Tribe fled the Ottoman Wali in Basrah, he sought refuge in Kuwait. When the Israelis attacked Palestinian villages and kicked them out of their own homes, Kuwait offered them a temporary home, all 400’000 of them, until some of them turned rogue and bought into Saddam’s lies. The same goes for the Lebanese, the same goes for many others.

This short and brief history describes Kuwait as a haven for freedoms and liberties, and if one goes into more detail in this regard, one can clearly outline the massive tolerance of the Kuwaitis, people and government, throughout its history. All this was done without any Islamic Political Movements like HADAS and the Salafists dictating religion to the masses.

Fast-forward to the present day, and here’s what we get:

1-Women must wear the Hijab when in Parliament.
2-Women must have the authorization of their guardians in order to get a Passport (Edit: This was annulled by the Constitutional Court last week)
3-Voting for women is “Haram.”
4-Women and Men must wear admissible swimwear.
5-All Shisha (hubbly-bubbly) joints, cafes and restaurants are to close by midnight.
6-Females saluting Males is “Haram.”
7-Standing up to the National Anthem is “Haram.”
(…and much more trivial stuff I can’t recall at the moment!)

What is being enforced on us as a people is not religion, nor is it a return to religious piousness, Kuwaitis were always pious, and observed religion (all religions) in ample fairness and respect to all the inhabitants, including Kuwaiti Jews and Christians, not including the many other denominations that came as expatriate workers, who helped build Kuwait up from a mud village into a city of skyscrapers and advanced financial institutions. All lived side by side in peace and respect, for both themselves and to others, ever since the 18th Century. They never needed people like some of today’s MP’s dictating religion and claiming their God-given destiny to bring back the populace to its religious piousness. Those people do not represent me, and as far as I’m concerned, they don’t represent what Kuwait stands for. Moreover, had they truly been Kuwaitis, and had they known Kuwait’s true history of tolerance and respect, they wouldn’t have brought these complications up in the first place!

I believe in Democracy. I believe it can work in Kuwait, and I believe in free speech. I condone these values, as someone who ‘at least’ believes in equality for all. What I don’t believe in, and what I can’t condone, is a weak and fearful reactionary government that responds favorably to idle threats made by socially insignificant malcontents and religious zealots who think that, just because they can hold a group prayer in mosques, that automatically makes them leaders and protectors of the people’s religious values.

Drawing from my own ‘limited’ experience, it’s very hard to be a leader. You need charisma, intellect, objectivity, tolerance, a belief in oneself and one’s plight. Most of all, however, you need a consensus of opinion. This can only be brought about through open, frank and fair dialogue between the opposite sides.

Evoking a Fatwa that restricts personal freedoms, and then forcing the Government to implement this Fatwa, in direct conflict with the country’s constitution, is not a consensus, it’s a dictatorship! At the very least, it’s the beginnings of a state where the power of the few overrules the rights of the many, where the law of the land is the rule of men, not of the Law, where there is no protection for civil liberties, where there is no tolerance for any form of political opposition when men in power invoke religion, and where allegiances are made and created through socialization and blind allegiance.

This type of state is an Authoritarian state, it is the middle ground between Democratization and Dictatorship, and right now, we’re witnessing Kuwait moving through this middle ground towards a Dictatorship. This is a dangerous time for Kuwait’s Democracy, and I fear that MPs such as Mohamed Hayef’s (and other like-minded individuals) recent collective uproars are precursors of even more sinister things to come.

“What is past is prologue”
– William Shakespeare

The New Kuwait


An electrical generator depot burning in Faiha following an explosion.

If what I am about to convey to you seems grim, it’s because it’s the truth, and the truth usually is that way.

In my opinion, Kuwait is not what it used to be. I don’t mean the advancement in economic and educational levels, I mean on a social, ethical level. For example, it used to be the case, back when I was growing up, that when a policeman passed by, people would actually respect the authority he represented. Nowadays, police officers get scolded whenever they try to do their job of regulating the speed laws, thanks to glorified MP’s who come-a-running whenever the guilty parties cry “wolf’!

It’s a shame to see Kuwait in the state it’s in right now; Economic uncertainty, Environmental time-bombs, Political instability, Geo-political threats, Social discord (despite what the naysayers say!), and through it all, a shadowy, semi-dominant authority rules over all, pitilessly exercising it’s power of coercion and manipulation in between the cracks of jurisprudence and double-meanings in order to either quietly privatize or blatantly rip off the entire state, leaving nothing but polluted crumbs for the rest of the populace to fight over.

Think I’m exaggerating? Consider this:

  • It’s been almost a month since the Mishref Sewage Plant disaster and the investigation is still ongoing as to exactly who was to blame between the Ministry of Public Works and the Contractor! Ironically, though, this issue was flagged as a potential problem by the Green Line Environmental Group back in 2007, and was issued in a report to the Ministry back then. At the same time, local newspapers report on Kuwait’s Oil investments in Vietnam and China, in light of the global economic downturn and potential reduction of Oil supplies in the region. One has to ask where all this money came from, and where will it go.
  • Government schools have just opened up their gates for the beginning of the school year and the MP’s are still shouting over the decision to ‘endanger the children with the Swine Flu epidemic’, as well as the usual drivel regarding the lack of preparedness in confronting Swine Flu and addressing educational needs! Also, Funnily enough, the recent decision by Kuwait University to raise the minimum acceptance requirements for new students because they are pushing the notion that a 3.0 GPA is better than a 2.8 GPA simply because the University “doesn’t have enough seats!” -If you don’t believe that one, just look at today’s Al Qabas newspaper!
  • The Government pushes Parliament to issue a new law that penalizes whoever ‘endangers the national unity, whether in deeds or in words’, while simultaneously allowing a football match to take place between the Kuwaiti and Iraqi teams – despite local sensitivities on such issues – and begins to internationally endorse the notion that it’s contemplating Iraq’s suggestion to restructure Iraqi debt owed to Kuwait! On this particular note, and to put it clearly, this Kuwaiti (me) is definitely not in favor of these decisions; I believe Iraq should remain indebted to Kuwait until all dues are paid, in complete accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions. Such is the way of ‘civilized’ and ‘educated ‘societies, and not tribal ones.

While all this is happening, some MP’s are calling onto the Government to curb ‘illegal Disco Clubs’ in Kuwait as it is in conflict with social morals and standards!

Never mind the MP whose son is the chairman of a company that extorts salaries from poor expat workers, never mind the MP whose KD5 Million check bounced and has been ‘out of sight’ for the past 4 months, and is nowhere to be found, never mind the MPs who paid, bartered & coerced their constituents for votes just to get elected to parliament.

Instead of focusing on pressuring the Government to clamp down on the rising problems of housing, health and education – like we voted them to do -these characters are asking the government to instead clamp down on illegal acts of immorality in Kuwait and its Islands, as if Kuwait was one big Playboy Mansion!

Unfortunately, this is the New Kuwait, a country with laws but no responsible lawmen, a country with a government that is not governing as it should, a country with rights that are not given. In short, a country with no foreseeable future except the inevitable collapse.

In one of my older posts, I mentioned that “What we need to do is dare to think outside the confines of our traditionalist ways, and encourage other to do so as well. ” How many of us are actually prepared to do that, I wonder.

People need to change the way the State’s Authority is practiced and implemented in a manner that commensurate with their own credibility and reputation. I say “people” because this is still a Democracy, governed by the People for the People, and not a state that is governed by a handful of royals, loudmouth MP’s and Fundamentalists who are out for their own gains. We are still living on this land, and we deserve better. Keeping in mind the feebleness of the individual needy constituent when it comes to his own personal gains, the corrupt MP will eventually find it extremely difficult to succeed if he is constantly confronted with people who aren’t afraid to lose some personal privileges for the sake of the ‘Greater Good’ that is Kuwait’s future prosperity. This will inevitably turn the Parliament into a more effective tool in the face of the Government, who will come to respect (not fear) it’s wishes and demands, and eventually do some good for a change.

To make a long story short: If you want to change something, change yourself first, only then will other changes eventually follow. This is what happens to prosperous societies such as those of Singapore, Post-WWII Europe, Japan, China, and yes, even the United States!

Ironically, what has clearly been prescribed in the Holy Quran is being shunned, very few of us actually attempt to better ourselves as people – we tend to negate life’s priorities. Yet we can easily call ourselves “Muslims” just because we speak casually in classical Arabic with heavy religious undertones, grow our beards, perform the five basic tenets of Shahada, Prayers, Paying Zakat, Hajj and Fast during Ramadan while we threaten the Government with feeble, idiotic threats if nothing’s been done to curb social deviance? That’s the double standard Mr. Islamic MP according to any dictionary you pick up.

Islam – the religion as a whole – is not simply a set of rules or regulations, it’s a covenant with the Creator to be the best you can be while ensuring that the lives of other people all around you are equally improved, whether you’re a leader or a follower. Personally, I feel sorry for the candidates, who buy into the lies and deception; I sincerely hope that change is for the better, socially before officially, and we can finally rid ourselves from all those loudmouths who thrive on social misconduct and use it as fodder for their political gains. One can only hope, especially one in despair.

If, however, some of you think that it’s not all that bad and things are actually better than the apocalyptic scene I just presented, I hope you’ll excuse me if I present you with these words of wisdom!

IREX and Kuwait Bloggers Sponsor Kuwait’s 1st Blogging Workshop

irex kuwait.JPG

The International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX)*, in association with a group of active and experienced bloggers, is sponsoring a workshop on September 28 in Kuwait . The event will be held at Marina

at 7:15pm.

The workshop will provide local bloggers and members of the public interested in on-line media and citizen journalism with the opportunity to learn more about issues affecting freedom of expression and the internet in Kuwait.

Panelists and participants will discuss:

  • The Growth of Blogging in Kuwait.
  • The Effect of Blogging on Public Debate and the Traditional media.
  • How to Create and Maintain a Successful Blog.
  • Legal Concerns and Restrictions on Bloggers.

The panelists:

Bader Al-Furaih (founder of Kuwait blogs and Safat)

Reem Al-Shammari

Abdullatif Al-Omar

Hasan Ramadan

Zayed Al-Zaid

Mohammed AbdulQader Al-Jasem

The panel will be moderated by veteran blogger and occasional Hilaliya Guest Writer Mohamed Al-Yousifi (

To register for the event please go to:

This event is open to the public.

For more information please contact us on 66189918