Letter to Badriya

Madam,

Thank you for another great piece, and congratulations to Kuwait Times for giving yourself and your colleague, Ms Fuzai, front-page coverage to the excellent and challenging pieces you both write. As a Kuwait expat (with my wife and youngest son) of almost 10 years, we have great affection for this country… but the ‘whole country’, as per the phrase you use in your headline, which for all my family means, not only men and women, but Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis alike.

This brings me to the main point of my letter, which is to raise an issue that you yourself have written about on several occasions in the past few months… the growing antagonisms appearing between the two sectors of Kuwait society, a gap being driven, I have to say, by some very backward-looking people in parliament and implemented mainly by the Ministry of Interior.

Please remind your readership that for good or ill (and clearly many parliamentarians consider this ‘ill’), Kuwait’s population does comprise almost 70 percent expats. They are rarely mentioned in the papers (unless adversely, at sporting events, or national holidays) and have little or no voice in the running of the affairs of the country in which they live, and for a small minority, is the only country they have ever known.

These outsiders do not have the privileges of the minority Kuwaitis, the greatest of which is the privilege of citizenship. Kuwait clearly has every right to exert this privilege, but many do not realize that behind the ‘shock/horror’ headlines of expat behavior and illegal goings-on, there is a vast majority of the 2.8 million expats, who amongst other things:

* Do all of the country’s very necessary dirty and backbreaking jobs.

* Earn very low wages, which according to the 2013 Central Statistical Bureau’s Expatriate Labor Employment data means that 69 percent – about a million people- earn less than KD 240 per month.

* Live here on ‘bachelor’ status in great numbers (women as well as men), in order to provide for families back home in Syria, the Philippines, Bangladesh, or wherever.

* Live in poor, over-crowded conditions, in what amount to ghettos (what else is Jleeb?), enforced not only by income, but by laws of residence.

I am one of the privileged, very small expat subcategory, a well-paid, old, European professional, living here comfortably with my wife and youngest son, but even I have my complaints… I would quite like to retire here and buy my wife and I a retirement home down in Pearl City… but that privilege is not open even to me… oh Kuwait what you are missing… please wake up!

Apologies for the flippant last paragraph, but I do hope you will take these comments in the sincere way they are intended, and perhaps even give you thought for some future articles.
Keep it up!

Anthony Edwards


This article was published on 08/05/2016