munaA lot of people leave their countries in search of better work, more income, greater stability for their families and perhaps a chance for fame as well, when life becomes impossible because of wars and political crises. All these reasons are logical. But, it is not the same in Kuwait, especially in recent years. It has become noticeable that some educated and intellectual Kuwaitis have other reasons for leaving their country and settling somewhere else. They are not doing this for the normal, well-known goal, which is money, but because they feel incompatible here with their ideas and find it difficult to effect change and development, so they think it is easier to live abroad to enjoy peace.

Fifteen years ago, I met a successful, wealthy Kuwaiti businessman, and during my conversation with him, he said that in spite of all the money he had, he was thinking of leaving Kuwait. I was amazed by this statement and considered his words as a joke, because only rich people say that money is not important. I said to myself only very wealthy people say such silly things, as they have everything in front of them. After these long years, I think that he was right. Money no longer stimulates such thinking to get out of Kuwait in search of a new homeland.

It is no longer surprising that some Kuwaitis want a life outside Kuwait. They love their country certainly, but they feel they are unable to make a speedy and positive transformation, and most of them are smart and successful people in their work, as well as some young people who feel that they can easily cope outside their country because they have the freedom to express themselves and their ideas without being judged either from the community or family. This is a serious matter for a small and limited community like ours, but for the moment, there are not many people talking publicly about this matter.

I know that some people may find this desire of citizens to live outside Kuwait an escape from addressing the situation of their country and its reasons, whether political, social or intellectual, and they should keep trying until the last breath because this is what true citizenship is about. In fact, this argument is a luxurious one to me – the decision to leave home is not easy. Such decisions are made by experts and people with businesses who have families here, but some may feel they have become strangers in their own land, and this is frustrating and despairing. When an individual feels he can’t make a difference due to the system, he moves out quietly to settle somewhere else and watches as a spectator both internal and external global conditions.

In recent years, more Kuwaitis are buying real estate abroad. It is becoming an obsession and aspiration to the extent that it is no longer for businessmen, but even those who receive some money from their pension insurance rush to buy property outside town, whether in an Arab or Western country. Countries such as Turkey and Britain have become places to purchase properties and are no longer mere tourist destinations. To own property in a country means the person has the desire to be a resident there for the longest possible period. Some people live abroad for several months and return to the country only on religious occasions such as the month of Ramadan.

Kuwaitis are clever, and they do not want to live poorly outside their country, so they choose to stay in their private properties and not in hotels, as they seem less concerned with appearance and often enjoy the simple lifestyle there. They are still loyal to their homeland, but they want to enjoy life like the rest of humanity without being judged. Is this asking for too much? Not at all. So maybe now money is no longer the only reason life becomes incompatible.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
muna@kuwaittimes.net