Site Search:
 
TEFL International Supports Dave's ESL Cafe
TEFL Courses, TESOL Course, English Teaching Jobs - TEFL International
Job Discussion Forums Forum Index Job Discussion Forums
"The Internet's Meeting Place for ESL/EFL Students and Teachers from Around the World!"
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Kuwaitis' frustration: Why is Kuwait lagging behind?

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Job Discussion Forums Forum Index -> Kuwait
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 3604
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 10:48 am    Post subject: Kuwaitis' frustration: Why is Kuwait lagging behind? Reply with quote

Frustrated Kuwaitis ask, why is Kuwait falling behind?
By Reuters, ArabianBusiness.com | 2 April 2014
http://www.arabianbusiness.com/frustrated-kuwaitis-ask-why-is-kuwait-falling-behind--544858.html?page=0

With a youthful, well-educated population, strong relationships with both neighbours and world powers, and a strategic location on the Gulf, major oil producer Kuwait should be as dynamic a hub for the region as Dubai or Doha.

But while others in the Gulf have powered ahead, attracting foreign investment and developing infrastructure, Kuwait has stagnated, frustrating the people of a country once seen as a Middle East trailblazer.
This frustration is especially evident among young Kuwaitis, cosmopolitan and often educated abroad, who complain of bureaucratic red tape and dysfunctional politics, but also acknowledge complacency among their fellow citizens. Although thousands took to Kuwait's streets in 2011 and 2012, seeking moderate political reforms, the demonstrations eventually fizzled, at least partly due to Kuwaitis' alarm over the chaos and rise of Islamists in the Arab Spring countries.

Kuwait's system of government handouts and well-paid, comfortable state jobs also blunted calls for change, whether in politics or in the state-reliant economy, observers say. "We are very lucky that we are financially very comfortable," said Maha Al Baghli, president of the association of business and professional women in Kuwait and an advocate for female entrepreneurs. "On the other hand, it is not encouraging entrepreneurs and hard work," Al Baghli told Reuters.

Sandwiched between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, the country is one of the world's richest per capita, and more than half of its 1.2 million citizens are under 25. Kuwait's leaders point to political deadlock in parliament that makes it difficult to get things done. But many observers say the government's frequent personnel changes, layers of bureaucracy and general ennui are also to blame. "We don't take the government seriously. They talk, but they do not do," said one Kuwaiti newspaper editor, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the topic.

The trauma of Saddam Hussein's invasion in 1990 deepened an innate cautiousness in Kuwaiti society, some believe. When asked in 2010 why Kuwait appeared to have lost position to other Gulf states, its emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, told Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "Every country follows its own path, according to the demands of its society."

Kuwait's parliament is the oldest and most influential in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. The assembly can block legislation and interrogate ministers, who are selected by a prime minister chosen by the emir. Relations between the elected assembly and government have often been fraught, however, with six parliamentary elections since 2006 and more than ten different governments, resulting more in political stasis than dynamism. In addition, members of the ruling family tend to hold the top government posts, while 84-year-old Sheikh Sabah has the final say on state affairs.

The political stand-offs are seen to be a main factor holding up economic reforms and a KWD30bn ($106.5bn) development plan for major infrastructure projects, announced in 2010, aimed at turning Kuwait into a regional centre. The plan includes projects such as a new airport, refinery and housing. One major residential city project, planned for years in the southern desert near the Saudi border, appeared on a recent visit to have made little progress.

Shafeeq Ghabra, professor of political science at Kuwait University, said there is a growing sense that the current system is not working. "There needs to be a political system which is more representative, more equal and more grassroots, with new blood at the highest level - that is able to deal with the issues that have been mounting over the past two decades," Ghabra said. "You cannot freeze yourself in a moment in history."

Kuwaitis compare their financial centre to Dubai, ruled by United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. "It's leadership," said the editor, when asked about what makes the UAE, also home to Abu Dhabi, work. Kuwait's government has not implemented a strategic vision, he said. "(Sheikh Mohammed) has a vision, he has a plan. From arriving at the airport until you leave. You respect this." The UAE also brooks no dissent, however. The contrast highlights the fact that Kuwait's example of limited greater freedoms has not impressed its neighbours, commentators say. "The failure of Kuwait to keep pace with its neighbours does have an unfortunate side-effect of dampening support for even partial political participation," said Kristian Ulrichsen, Gulf expert at the US-based Baker Institute. "Rulers elsewhere look at the political deadlock and take the lesson that this is what happens when too many unpredictable elements are brought into the decision-making process."

One thing that infuriates young Kuwaitis on a day-to-day level is how much easier it can be to do business in other Gulf countries - even next door in deeply conservative Saudi Arabia. When Shawaf Al Shawaf wanted to register his kitchen tools business in Kuwait, the bureaucratic process took six months. In Saudi Arabia, it took him less than a day. "If I need to go to a government department, I cancel my whole day because I know I will spend the whole time there," said Shawaf, 24, who set up his company Dolsten in late 2012. A 2013 World Bank ranking on the ease of doing business puts Kuwait at 104 out of 189 economies, by far the lowest in the GCC. The next lowest, Qatar, is at 48 while Saudi Arabia is at 26 and the UAE leads at 23. The government says it wants to make bureaucratic processes easier for small and medium-sized companies and support youth initiatives, and has set up a 2 billion dinar fund to help such projects.

But people in Kuwait say the country will only carry out serious economic and political reforms if faced with a crisis, such as a steep fall in oil prices. Oil accounts for nearly all of the state revenues. In addition, high government wages and generous benefits will not be sustainable forever. The International Monetary Fund says spending could exceed income as early as 2017 if it continues to grow at the current rate.

"I don't think that change is likely unless it is forced on them," a Western diplomat said, declining to be named because of the political sensitivity of the subject.

(End of article)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
ttxor1



Joined: 04 Jan 2014
Posts: 62

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

interesting article...when the Arab Spring happened the Kuwaiti government gave all citizens around 1000KD, i think... we foreigners joked that it would be a good time to marry a Kuwaiti citizen.... unfortunately, when I was there in 2010-2012, i didn't meet too many Kuwaitis so couldn't get much of a first hand perspective on things like this.... on a day to day basis, many foreigners, especially those from the Indian subcontinent, drove the taxis, worked in the shops, etc... As the article notes, Kuwaitis mostly work in telecommunications, banks, gov't ministries, etc...I remember one time i was doing bank business and had a conversation with the teller about basketball. he was planning to catch a game of the NBA playoffs (early the next morning)... was cool chatting with a Kuwaiti about the NBA, but wish i could have done it in Arabic ... Sad
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
mashkif



Joined: 17 Aug 2010
Posts: 129

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 4:17 am    Post subject: Re: Kuwaitis' frustration: Why is Kuwait lagging behind? Reply with quote

nomad soul wrote:
Frustrated Kuwaitis ask, why is Kuwait falling behind?
By Reuters, ArabianBusiness.com | 2 April 2014
http://www.arabianbusiness.com/frustrated-kuwaitis-ask-why-is-kuwait-falling-behind--544858.html?page=0

With a youthful, well-educated population, strong relationships with both neighbours and world powers, and a strategic location on the Gulf, major oil producer Kuwait should be as dynamic a hub for the region as Dubai or Doha.[...]





Well, they lost me at the "well-educated population" part Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked

The general knowledge, interests, hobbies, and talents of an average Kuwaiti youth (and most adults) do not extend much beyond shopping, brands (fashion, automobile, smartphone), diwaniya, and traveling. By traveling, I mean the shopping malls in Dubai, Paris, and London. They have next to zero knowledge of history, geography, global affairs of any kind, or even the sociopolitical situation in their own country. Talking to many of my students (and I work at what is far and away the most prestigious university in the state), I find I am far more familiar with Kuwaiti politics than they are.

That, then, puts paid to "well educated." Next we come to work ethics, and the less said about that, the better.

Ultimately, the problem is that most Kuwaitis wouldn't know what to do if you handed them a bucket of water and a mop, and even if they did, they'd think it far beneath them to use such implements. With that kind of an attitude, they won't get very far.

Granted, most 5aleejis are the same (with the exception of the poorer Bahrainis, Saudis, and Omanis), but the Qataris and Dubaians have made some effort to either create some order in their societies or they embarked on extensive P.R. campaigns to give an appearance that they have.

Kuwait, much as I love it, is stagnant... - at best.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
MuscatGary



Joined: 03 Jun 2013
Posts: 663
Location: Oman

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 4:56 am    Post subject: Re: Kuwaitis' frustration: Why is Kuwait lagging behind? Reply with quote

mashkif wrote:

The general knowledge, interests, hobbies, and talents of an average Kuwaiti youth (and most adults) do not extend much beyond shopping, brands (fashion, automobile, smartphone), diwaniya, and traveling. By traveling, I mean the shopping malls in Dubai, Paris, and London.


The Kuwaitis I met whilst working there were far more interested in obtaining alcohol and procuring hookers than shopping! One of them had resolved these twin problems by having a party house with a fully stocked bar and Chinese girls who served his friends in more ways than one.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 3604
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mashkif wrote:
Well, they lost me at the "well-educated population" part Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked

The general knowledge, interests, hobbies, and talents of an average Kuwaiti youth (and most adults) do not extend much beyond shopping, brands (fashion, automobile, smartphone), diwaniya, and traveling. By traveling, I mean the shopping malls in Dubai, Paris, and London. They have next to zero knowledge of history, geography, global affairs of any kind, or even the sociopolitical situation in their own country. Talking to many of my students (and I work at what is far and away the most prestigious university in the state), I find I am far more familiar with Kuwaiti politics than they are.

Ironically, the same generalization has been made about educated Americans as well---that they lack basic knowledge of US history, politics, world geography, etc. Additionally, I'm not sure why you relate recreational activities such as shopping and traveling to educational level; they have no bearing on an individual's intelligence.

To me, well educated means those who have completed their formal or tertiary academic studies rather than those who are still studying and learning the basics. Well educated includes those who have studied in an English-speaking learning environment on home soil or abroad, or at Arabic-only universities. Plus, Kuwait also has a 95% literacy rate. "Well educated" very likely means something differently to you, but I don't think it should be defined solely based on the small segment of the population you personally engage in. But then, how it's defined isn't really the point.

and wrote:
Next we come to work ethics, and the less said about that, the better.

Which is what the article points out as being a frustration of many Kuwaitis about their society:
    "But while others in the Gulf have powered ahead, attracting foreign investment and developing infrastructure, Kuwait has stagnated, frustrating the people of a country once seen as a Middle East trailblazer. This frustration is especially evident among young Kuwaitis, cosmopolitan and often educated abroad, who complain of bureaucratic red tape and dysfunctional politics, but also acknowledge complacency among their fellow citizens.
    . . . .

    "We are very lucky that we are financially very comfortable," said Maha Al Baghli, president of the association of business and professional women in Kuwait and an advocate for female entrepreneurs. "On the other hand, it is not encouraging entrepreneurs and hard work," Al Baghli told Reuters.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
mashkif



Joined: 17 Aug 2010
Posts: 129

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nomad soul wrote:
mashkif wrote:
Well, they lost me at the "well-educated population" part Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked

The general knowledge, interests, hobbies, and talents of an average Kuwaiti youth (and most adults) do not extend much beyond shopping, brands (fashion, automobile, smartphone), diwaniya, and traveling. By traveling, I mean the shopping malls in Dubai, Paris, and London. They have next to zero knowledge of history, geography, global affairs of any kind, or even the sociopolitical situation in their own country. Talking to many of my students (and I work at what is far and away the most prestigious university in the state), I find I am far more familiar with Kuwaiti politics than they are.

Ironically, the same generalization has been made about educated Americans as well---that they lack basic knowledge of US history, politics, world geography, etc. Additionally, I'm not sure why you relate recreational activities such as shopping and traveling to educational level; they have no bearing on an individual's intelligence.


Straw man. I never made even an implication, let alone an outright statement, that any part of this discussion has any connection whatsoever to anyone intellect.



Quote:
To me, well educated means those who have completed their formal or tertiary academic studies rather than those who are still studying and learning the basics. Well educated includes those who have studied in an English-speaking learning environment on home soil or abroad, or at Arabic-only universities. Plus, Kuwait also has a 95% literacy rate. "Well educated" very likely means something differently to you, but I don't think it should be defined solely based on the small segment of the population you personally engage in. But then, how it's defined isn't really the point.


*sigh*

Trot out all the semantics and sophistry you want; fact is that by ANY measure of what constitutes being "well educated," Kuwaitis are NOT... - except perhaps if merely owning a diploma from a higher education establishment makes one "well educated." (That opens a whole other can of worms, to wit, what passes for a "higher education establishment" in Kuwait.) Then again, Kuwait has one of the highest - if not the highest - number of Ph.D. holders per capita, and if that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about this subject, nothing will.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Job Discussion Forums Forum Index -> Kuwait All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page is maintained by the one and only Dave Sperling.
Contact Dave's ESL Cafe
Copyright © 2011 Dave Sperling. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group

Road2Spain - TEFL and Spanish with one year student visa
EBC