The Ministry of Interior in recent months has grown increasingly hardliner in a number of areas. From a crackdown on traffic law violators to stricter border controls, the measures are aimed at increasing security in Kuwait and hopefully improving the living conditions of all. Fair enough.
The reality is that there are few places in the world where people love the police. Though their job is to serve and protect they are more often seen as hostile enforcers of the law that make life difficult for the average person. At the same time, their job is not easy. Imagine if you had to deal with criminals, liars and trouble makers all day? That is the reality faced by many Interior officers in Kuwait. Even traffic police can be slapped or yelled at by motorists.
Still there is a clear bias in several recent Interior Ministry actions and decrees against expatriates. For years now, expatriates have become the whipping boy of political discourse in Kuwait. Blame the expats for the crowded streets. Blame the expats for the deteriorating health care services. Blame the expats for the high cost of tuition. Blame the expats for the rising crime rates (actually government stats prove that citizens and bedoons commit the highest percentage of crimes in Kuwait0). Blame the expats for how frustrated we all are with the way Kuwait has fallen behind its neighbors in pretty much every category.
Blaming us, however, will not change the reality. Raising visa fees for children, parents and visitors will not fill government coffers nor help the alleged budget deficit. Blaming foreigners and making them out to be a violent, criminal enemy exploiting the riches of Kuwait will not make Kuwait’s schools better, health care services improved or government less corrupt.
The bald truth which no one wants to say is that the corruption endemic for so long has spread like a cancer to nearly every section of the government. That within this corruption, the seeds of waste, inefficiency, inaction and destruction have long been sown and are now being reaped.
Its stunningly egregious the squandering of Kuwait’s beauty and potential. This country has so much greatness within it and its shocking to see it frittered away so blithely.
None of us want to pay higher fees. But I think we would be willing if it translated into better services, better schools, hospitals, roads and fairer treatment. Some think of expatriates as foreigners who come here and like ticks feed off the Kuwaiti blood. But there are many of us who do our best to contribute to this society, who give back and who view this as a home away from home that we want to make better for ourselves, our children and society as a whole. We want only decent work, a safe and clean place to live and fair treatment under the law.
We want be able to walk into a police station and not need wasta to file a report when there is a crime or a problem. We want to be lawabiding, not law-hiding. We want to be able to lawfully drive because we applied for and received a driving license (after meeting all the qualifications, not because we had wasta). We want to use the public hospitals and pay a fair amount for insurance, tests and whatever but not be limited to evening hours only.
The Interior has become the most powerful ministry in Kuwait of late and that can be a good thing for everyone but only if it recognizes and respects all of us that contribute to building a better, safer Kuwait.
By Sara Ahmed