So another year has come and gone.
In the run up to the one year anniversary of the late Sheik Jaber Al Sabah, perhaps it’s an appropriate time to reflect on a year which promised some exciting times for the much vaunted ‘New Kuwait.’
2006 gave us hope. Not only did Kuwait have a new ‘visionary’ leader at the helm, but many of the previous constrictions, such as women’s voting rights, were finally lifted after a 44 year struggle for equality.
Remember the buzz, the hype, the wild rumours?
Was Kuwait finally going to break from its 17th century shackles and (gasp) modernize ?
So let’s take a look at what has been happening in the aftermath of the great ‘power struggle’ which ensued late last January.
Aside from an extraordinary amount of money being spent on an entire entourage of ‘Foreign Policy’ Related Travel expenses……er…..not a lot.
Whilst the rest of the Middle East has moved forward, evaluated their political and economical positions , embraced progression and pushed for a more open and liberalized society – what’s been going on in our Kuwait?
1. We’ve seen our entertainment sector slowly been shut down. We’ve been told that ‘spies’ are now lurking around each and every corner – ready to report our actions and our every whereabouts.
2. We’ve seen women finally get a chance to not only vote – but also run for political power. Despite 28 women running for office – not a single woman was elected…(Pretty bemusing considering there are more Kuwaiti women than men).
3. We’ve seen some ‘Mega Projects’ proposed and subsequently stalled or cancelled due to rowdy, multi-directional Parliamentary ‘Leaders.’
4. We’ve seen hundreds of billions of dollars poured into more ‘needy’ countries, despite us having our own Kuwaiti Resident’s dying from our ‘ever-so-efficient’ 777 system. I wont bother mentioning our archaic roads which haven’t been updated since 1986….well, OK, I will.
5. We’ve seen our once healthy selection of CD’s and DVD’s reduced to the dregs of the ‘Amazon’ bargain bin. Yes, Sex And The City WAS once stocked at Virgin…and Yes, We WERE once able to buy more than ‘The Greatest Hits of 2004.’
6. We’ve seen some bizarre public demonstrations, including fully fledged campaigns to drop the $8 billion ‘personal loans’ for citizens.
So, in brief retrospect, despite 2006 promising so much. Has anything really changed for the positive?
Well, I was expecting a lot more if I’m honest.
Whilst Qatar celebrated being put on the Global Map by hosting the illustrious ‘Asian Games’ – we in Kuwait can look forward to the not-so-illustrious ‘ Fencing Grand Prix.’
Whilst Dubai and (now) Bahrain announced yet more ridiculously elaborate construction projects – we flexed our muscles by announcing a new Shaya inspired Mall.
Come on Kuwait, aside from the meaningless 200 KD gift – we really got nothing from 2006.
And what hurts the most?
We’ve got everything we need to become a major ‘Economic Super Power’ in the Middle East.
Frankly, I’m fed up ‘to the teeth’ of looking over enviously into our neighbor’s garden and seeing what wildly exciting projects they are dreaming up this time.
What worries me is (as is typical with Kuwait) by the time we realize that we need to move quickly to modernize (E-Government anyone?) – we will be stuck between a rock and a very, very hard and lonely place.
So what about you? Were you happy with your 2006 Kuwait?
Is Kuwait Changing? Are we moving forward?