Is Kuwait heading backwards?

Nawara Fattahova

Kuwait is at a cross roads. Will it develop and become a regional leader? Will it embrace the vision of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for the 2035 New Kuwait and open for growth in tourism, investment and entertainment? There are many in Kuwait who hope so. But there are also those who continue to push back against the efforts to develop the country.

While other neighbor countries are hosting international entertainment and cultural events, Kuwait is falling behind – stopping concerts in the middle of the performance or yanking permissions just as performers are ready to take the stage. Just recently the organizers for a concert of Iraqi singers was punished and had its licensed suspended after complaints of ‘people dancing in the venue’ despite there being a reported 42 inspectors from the Information Ministry present.

And everyone has been talking about the K-pop band, D-Crunch, whose performance was at the last minute barred despite being sponsored by the National Council for Culture, Arts, and Letters in cooperation with the Korean Embassy in Kuwait on the occasion of the 40th anniversary for the bilateral relations.

The cancellation allegedly stemmed from reports that the band ‘went against public morals’ but no official reason was given and the band had been nothing but respectful of Kuwait, Arab and Islamic culture during its tour of the region and performances in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia in previous weeks.

Though we are still a few weeks away from the Kuwait International Book Fair, we are pretty sure some books will be on the banned list – possibly even from local authors.

All these bans and cancellations damage the reputation of Kuwait and in some cases, its relations with other friendly nations. Moreover, they do nothing to stop access to any information which is now freely available to all via the internet.

Instead they make Kuwait look backwards and fearful rather than an open, development-focused future leader of the region. Such decisions undermine organizers and businesses that want to promote entertainment activities in Kuwait, discourage tourism and embarrass the country in front of the rest of the world.

Our neighbors once came to Kuwait to attend musical concerts, watch the latest movies in cinemas, and attend theatre plays on stage, now it’s the opposite and we will have to travel to our neighbors for cultural tourism.

By Nawara Fattahova