Though we no longer reside full time in Kuwait we certainly make an effort to keep up with the daily happenings there considering we do still have family and other interests there. Let me rephrase that, I keep up with the daily happenings. My husband has almost zero interest in what’s taking place in Kuwait. He’s never really ‘meshed’ with the culture so to speak, he’s often had to pretend certain behaviors and put on the fake smile, and always knew he just didn’t belong in some odd way. In my humble opinion, and in no way trying to offend anyone; I think, over time, he just consciously educated himself beyond what was/is accepted in his culture. He not only thought outside of the box, but he left the box all together.
Perhaps it’s because I’m away from Kuwait more than I’m there I see it through different eyes. But over the past few years it feels as though Kuwait has become divided within itself. There’s the older generation who want to lean more in the direction of big brother Saudi Arabia, and the younger generation who want to follow the lead of the UAE. And if you’re familiar with Saudi and the UAE you’ll understand the stark differences between the two though their foundation of beliefs are the same. Just like the population of Kuwait.
The elders in Kuwait are also divided on some level — the open minded and those with a beard. OK, not nice, but you get the idea.
The open minded older generation are all for change in Kuwait. The type of change that resembles their childhood when Kuwait was ‘pre-invasion’ and there was a sense of freedom and equality in the country. Women didn’t always cover their heads, married couples attended mixed gender events, and people even danced without finger pointing or the fear of being arrested.
The other half of the older generation, those sporting a beard, well, they want change too. However, while their idea of change is also a glimpse into the past, it’s so far in the past few would even recognize it. In their minds Kuwait should revert to a primitive lifestyle where every action is dictated by religious beliefs.
You can see how this could lead to conflict both personally and politically. Now throw into the mix the Kuwaiti youth. Those who truly want to see a change which resembles something from the future. They’re proactive, progressive, intelligent, and educated. But sadly, all of this forward movement makes them appear to be running from the past. Obviously upsetting the elders who cling to the past like a lifebuoy preventing them from taking their last breath.
All of this internal conflict isn’t good for the country. It leaves them discombobulated, confused, and lacking any real direction. And from the outside, they appear to just be a mess. Imagine what other local governments must think of them. Saudi has managed to hold onto their ancient past… and even enforce it for the most part. And the UAE has managed to seamlessly bring modern day freedoms into their Islamic country while maintaining their values and culture. Bravo!
Kuwait? Well, Kuwait is just struggling from within to find its identity. Quite similar to many of those Kuwaiti (and non-Kuwaiti/expat) youth who are dying to be trend setters yet are only following things the modern world accomplished decades ago. And while I watch them face a number of interior challenges, I’m always rooting for their win. Kuwait holds a piece of my heart and will always be a part of my life. I love Kuwait and beam with pride while sharing stories with friends here at home. I long for the day the country finds itself and unites — because I do believe that can happen. Until that day comes change will never happen, whether it be forward or backwards.
Below are a couple of videos entitled ‘Kuwait Then & Now” (parts 1 & 2). I’ve only watched the first few minutes but found it to be quite interesting.