By Jamie Etheridge
I came to Kuwait in 2004 to serve as the managing editor of Kuwait Times. At that time, there was great optimism here due to the ouster of the Saddam regime in Iraq. Everywhere I went, people predicted that Kuwait would soon flourish like neighboring Dubai, grow a booming economy and open to the world after years under the sword of Damocles posed by its northern neighbor.
The period of optimism quickly morphed, however, into a period of political transition and upheaval. The Nabiha Khamsa movement, then the advent of women’s suffrage, opened the door to greater political participation across a spectrum of local society. It was my job to cover this change in the newspaper and I still remember the day I stood with my Kuwaiti female friends for hours in a long queue of women voters in Rawda when they cast their ballots for the first time ever. I watched as they ululated and cried with joy at this momentous event and celebrated along with them.
But the cries of joys quickly merged into disappointment and disgruntlement when change and development did not occur as quickly as hoped. Instead, protest after protest led to parliamentary dissolution and Cabinet resignations and reshuffles. Kuwait Times reported it all, doing our utmost best to remain objective and give all sides equal voice in our pages. We believed in the larger project – the building of Kuwait’s future – and we still do.
Ultimately, the domestic political turmoil settled as Kuwait and the rest of the Gulf turned their attention first to the global economic meltdown and then to the tumultuous Arab Spring. In 2009, I left the newspaper to take a break, but returned again at the end of 2013. In the nearly eight years since, Kuwait has witnessed another round of incredible and world-altering events.
None of us who lived here in 2015 or care about Kuwait and its people will ever forget the heartbreaking tragedy of the bombing of the Imam Sadiq mosque in Kuwait City during Ramadan. I toured the mosque after the bombing and wrote about that terrible day. But I also wrote about how Kuwaitis from all segments of society as well as residents came out in a show of strength and unity and refused to be cowed by hate and violence.
None of us could have foreseen the coming of the global pandemic in early 2020, but Kuwait Times worked day and night to provide coverage and all the news and information our readers needed to stay informed in those early, dark days. I’m proud to say that I led the charge in bolstering our digital channels to build the places where readers could find the information and news they needed during the crisis.
Today, Kuwait Times marks 60 years of journalism in Kuwait. Sixty years of hard work and dedication and recording Kuwait’s history, its leadership and national days, pioneering development, crises, successes and triumphs. I am honored and grateful to have had the opportunity to serve Kuwait’s journalism for the greater part of 17 years and feel lucky to have worked at Kuwait Times, recording parts of this incredible country’s journey, to have been witness to Kuwait’s history in the making.