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If you don’t like Kuwait, you can leave!

saharI have written a lot about Kuwait in my previous columns. Being an expat, I have tried to give an idea on how expats live in Kuwait and have written about our experiences, good and bad. I have written about our sufferings and disappointments, hopes and dreams.

As journalists, it is required from us to be objective: Report what we see without manipulating the truth under any circumstances, even if it causes us problems or harm. Truth is the torch that guides us in our profession, although I do agree that the truth hurts sometimes and can be devastating, but still necessary, at all times.

On many occasions, I have received responses for my columns whenever I criticize or highlight a bad situation that is harming expats in general and locals, be it the inferior educational system, the deplorable transportation system, the high prices in restaurants, of food, transportation, housing, and utilities, the hustle of processing government papers, not to mention the observed slacking of employees there, the discrimination between expats and locals, between Kuwaitis and other Kuwaitis, between people from the same religion but from different sects, the polarizing politics and racism.

Yet I always hear the same answer: “If you don’t like it here, you can leave the country.” And my response always is, “In criticizing something, Kuwait in this situation, doesn’t mean that I have no respect for or don’t like Kuwait; on the contrary, I only criticize because I care. I criticize because it hurts me so much to see a country with so much potential, money and resources going backwards every year instead of flourishing and prospering. A country that I am grateful to for giving me a decent job.

As Winston Churchill said: “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body - it calls attention to the development of an unhealthy state of things. If it is heeded in time, danger may be averted - if it is suppressed, a fatal distemper may develop.” I do not criticize for the sake of criticizing.

I raise what are obvious and serious social ills to highlight the problems and encourage improvement, instead of leaving them buried and neglected. It is a fact that the transportation system in Kuwait needs to be re-planned and public transport definitely needs solutions. Ask anyone who uses the public bus to get to work, about the conditions inside the buses - how you can almost cook an egg inside the bus, especially in summer, where the temperature sometimes reaches 50 or 60 degrees, because there is no air-conditioning.

It is a fact that inflation is killing all of us - local and expats alike. From food to rent to basic shopping, prices are skyrocketing, yet salaries are not keeping up. Discrimination exists and is spreading and getting worse every minute. Most maids are treated badly.

Some politicians do not do their jobs as they are supposed to, leaving the country to fall to a dark future. All that I have mentioned above are nothing but facts. In our culture, there is a saying that goes: “He who keeps silent over injustice is like a mute devil.” I only speak on behalf of the people that have no voice.

I genuinely cherish Kuwait, because it has offered me a future when my own country could not, and for this I feel I have a sincere obligation to make it a better country. Only by admitting our mistakes can we change things. Do we want to be ruined by praise or saved by criticism?

By Sahar Moussa
sahar@kuwaittimes.net

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This article was published on 18/06/2015