Kuwait History & Background

Kuwait

The modern state of Kuwait is located at the northwestern end of the Persian Gulf, or Arabian Gulf – as the Arabs like to call the body of water separating the Arabian Peninsula from Iran.

In ancient times Iran was known as the Kingdom of Persia, from where the descriptor Farsi came to be used as a proper adjective to describe the gulf in the west. But to the Arabs, it is the Arabian Gulf, and to avoid taking offense from either side, the Persian/Arabian Gulf is commonly referred to simply as the Gulf.

Kuwait occupies a strategic position in the Gulf region bordering Iraq to the north and north-west and Saudi Arabia to the south and south-west. The land area of ​​Kuwait is 17,818 square kilometers (6,969 sq mi).

With a coastline of 195 km, access to the waters of the Gulf of Kuwait is a coveted property. The ease of oil-export enjoyed by the Gulf Coast states is an added bonus for the petroleum producing countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

From the west, the desert plain of Kuwait slopes from 300 meters above sea level to the coast of the Gulf. The southern regions of Kuwait are generally flat, although there are many depressions, sand dunes and slopes in the north-west.

Off the coast of the mainland there are nine islands belonging to Kuwait: Falqa, Bubian, Miskan, Warba, Ouha, Umm al-Maradim, Umm al-Namal, Kubbar and Qaruh.

The head of state of Kuwait is HH (His Excellency) Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah. Arabic is the official language, and Islam is the state religion, although there are very few non-Muslim Kuwaitis, Christians of Iraqi or Lebanese origin.

There are also Christians, Hindus and Parsis among the expatriate communities, who are allowed to practice their religious beliefs with reasonable freedom. As of 1997, Kuwait had a population of 2,152,775, and at 3.35 percent, Kuwait has the highest population growth rate in the world.

But in 1997 only 745,189 of the total population were Kuwaiti citizens, the rest being migrant workers living in the country, providing their services in sectors such as banking and commerce, or providing essential manual labor in sectors such as construction and cleaning. Were.

Accurate population statistics are difficult to determine due to factors such as the illegal entry of foreign workers and the large number of stateless Arabs collectively bidun, or “without [nationality]”.

Jahra-castle
Jahra Castle

These are a mix of descendants of stateless Arabian desert Bedouins, who never registered as citizens in the 1960s, as well as immigrants from surrounding countries. An estimated 90 percent of the labor force in Kuwait consists of Asian and foreign Arab workers. More conservative estimates place the foreign labor population at around 70 percent of the total population.

Foreign workers have literally built modern Kuwait, which includes ultramodern city buildings and the infrastructure of country roads, communication networks and industrial operations. Without foreign workers, Gulf countries like Kuwait would not be able to enjoy the level of prosperity that they do.

Foreign workers provide the hard labor needed for any profit in the Gulf region, derived from a geological blow of fate that has put more than half of the world’s known oil reserves in the hands of Gulf states. But the harsh treatment of foreign workers has attracted international attention.

Gulf states are known for violating workers’ rights, placing them in abject labor camps, withholding wages, providing depressingly low wages for grueling and dangerous work, known as slavery or the modern form of indentured slavery. can be described in. In the late 1990s, riots in Kuwait by angry workers shocked Kuwait, especially because it is the only Gulf country where trade unions are legal.

In a tense, war-torn region of the world, the security of the Gulf region’s extremely prosperous oil states has been threatened in recent times by the Iran–Iraq War (1980–88), the hegemony of Iraq and the Gulf War. (1990–91), and the serious social problems hidden beneath the outward appearance of prosperity, westernization and modernization.

The alleged historical claim to Kuwait that Iraq resurfaced periodically in the twentieth century is a repeated serious threat to Kuwaiti sovereignty, most notably in the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Even since Iraq’s expulsion by coalition forces from Kuwait, the saber-rattling of Kuwait’s aggressive northern neighbor continues.

For example, Baghdad labeled the celebration of Kuwait’s Liberation Day on February 26, 2001, as “provocative”. US Without the U.S.-led intervention and eventual expulsion of Iraqi forces, Kuwait would have actually been incorporated as the nineteenth province of Iraq. If past history is an indicator of future actions, Kuwait may face further challenges to state sovereignty in the early years of the twenty-first century.

In its past history, Kuwait was a small city with a wall around it, called a Qurain (or also Grené) in the 1600s. The Quran is derived from the Arabic word qarn, which means high hill. The name Kuwait is derived from the Arabic kaout, which means a fortified house built beside the water. The plural of kout, or aquat, is the source of Kuwait, and the term was used to refer to towns that included many castles and fortified houses surrounded by walls. Thus, the historical description of Qurain (Gran) or Kuwait (Kout/Aquat) as a fortified city adjacent to the water began to be used as a proper name for not only the city of Kuwait, but also the Kingdom of Kuwait.

The country has benefited from the oil revenue generated since the discovery of oil in 1938. Besides oil exports, other areas of economic development in Kuwait include manufacturing industries, petrochemicals, foodstuffs, building materials, trade, real estate, communications and transportation.

Although Kuwait recovered financially from the Iraqi invasion and occupation of 1990–91, reconstruction and financing of the war effort drew hundreds of billions of dollars from Kuwaiti financial reserves, a severe blow to an extremely comfortable position. state of existence.

On June 19, 1961, Kuwait transitioned from its position as a British protectorate in 1897 to become an independent, sovereign state. A draft constitution was approved on November 11, 1961, which outlined Kuwait’s system of governance as “a fully independent Arab state with a democratic style of government, where sovereignty rests with the nation, who source of.” Legislative authority is vested in the Emir, or national head of state, in conjunction with the elected National Assembly. Executive power rests exclusively with the Emir, his cabinet and his ministers.

In this context of a constitutional democracy, with super influence brought about through oil revenues, Kuwait relied on trade for fishing, pearl making and subsistence from a poor city-state to an ultramodern capable of providing the highest standard of living. turned into a nation-state.

Regarding the social services and welfare benefits that money can buy for its citizens—not to mention a comfortable standard of living for the roughly 1.5 million expatriates living and working in Kuwait.

Early development and independence in relation to other Gulf states resulted in lower Gulf states looking to Kuwait as a model for their own social welfare systems, especially education.

Social development has been a priority for the Kuwaiti government, and the oil wealth has made possible the use of the latest technologies and resources in the education and social service sectors.

However, that wealth has made it unique and even enviable for Kuwait’s government and citizens from the developing world’s vantage point—challenges.

In education, in the early twenty-first century, the challenge has been to reform educational institutions and training centers to align with the needs of the labor market in the process of moving young, educated citizens into profit. productive employment.

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