Kuwait is a small slice of area of the world sometimes referred to as the “cradle of civilization.” It is not known for sure how far back into prehistory to situate civilization in Kuwait, but it is clear that the area was home to a series of different people over the millennia(Casey, 2007, p. 15).
Kuwait is a small desert country at the northwest coast of the Persian Gulf. The modern history of Kuwait dates back to 1710 when immigrants from the Arabian Peninsula took over the area and proceeded to establish the city of Kuwait. The history of Kuwait is often divided into two periods: the pre and post-oil periods. The former was the period from the time of the foundation of Kuwait up to the middle of the 20th century; the latter began with the oil boom in the 1950s and 1960s. The Iraqi occupation of the country from August 1990 to February 1991, introduced a third period: ‘post war’. After 1946, the country began to exploit oil in large quantities. At present, Kuwait is the world’s second largest exporter of oil after Saudi Arabia(Casey, 2007).
Communication and Language
Practically all Kuwaiti citizens are ethnically Arab by birth, meaning they can trace their origins back to the Arabian Peninsula prior to the advent of Islam(Casey, 2007, pp. 8-9). The official language of the country is Arabic, though English is widely spoken and understood, especially in the major business and population centers. Arabic belongs to the Hamito-Semitic family of languages, which is related to Hebrew, Aramaic, and Ethiopian, among others. Spoken Arabic is colloquial in nature. The spoken dialect of Kuwaiti is essentially Arabian peninsular, that is, Arabic is spoken in Saudi Arabia, but Kuwaiti Arabic is significantly different from the dialects spoken in, say, Syria, Egypt, or Algeria.Written Arabic is the Lingua Sacra or “sacred language” of Islam because the revelations made to Mohammed were delivered and recorded in Arabic(Casey, 2007, p. 9).
Almost all of Kuwaitis citizenry follow the religion of Islam, which is also the official religion of Kuwait(DiPiazza, 2006, p. 47). While many non-citizens within Kuwait are also Muslims, those from other areas, such as South Asia, generally bring with them a host of other religious beliefs.
While Kuwait does not engage in the kinds of aggressive measures that some other Muslim nations employ to limit the exercise of faiths other than Islam, Kuwait is still home to very few Christians or Jews. As a Muslim, the typical Kuwaiti believes that God (Allah) revealed himself directly to the prophetMohammed, as recorded in the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book(Casey, 2007, p. 9).Within Islam, Muslims are divided into Sunnis and Shiites. In Kuwait, Sunni greatly outnumber Shiites by at least three to one, though this ratio has never been accurately determined.
Kuwaiti traditionally has ordered its society according to clan, or tribal loyalties. Clans are large family groups sharing a common ancestor (DiPiazza, 2006, p. 35). Traditionally, a person’s place in the clan was more important than job or riches. However, social change has made its mark on the country. Widespread economic growth has made traditional social relationships less important.
Partly as a result of the negative effects of the Iraqi occupation on older Kuwaitis and partly as a result of a baby boom since the gulf war, Kuwait’s population is rather young (Casey, 2007, p. 8). The median age of the population is in the mid twenties. All Kuwaiti citizens, girls and boys, receive compulsory free education through high school. If a citizen chooses to pursue a college degree, he or she can do so for free, either in Kuwaiti or outside the country. The literacy rate in Kuwait, for males and females alike exceeds 80 percent, which is well above the normal found among Muslim nations. Supported by a comprehensive national health care program, life expectancies for Kuwaiti men and women are in the upper seventies and continue to rise slowly(DiPiazza, 2006, p. 38).
Compared with conditions in the west, the cultural restrictions placed on the personal lives of Kuwaiti women remain numerous and substantial, but movement is definitely in the direction of more social and political freedoms, and the hope of full civil rights for Kuwaiti women remains alive and the objective attainable(González, 2013, p. 184). When compared with women in many other Muslim countries, the women of Kuwait enjoy remarkable latitude culturally. In recent years, the role of women in Kuwaiti society and politics has continued to expand, and Kuwait is a definite trendsetter in the Muslim world in this regard(Al-Sabah, 2013, p. 51).
Only a few generations ago, most Kuwaitis were nomadic camel herders, fishermen, or pearl divers. At present, only about half of all Kuwaitis work on a daily basis. The majority of those Kuwaitis who do work are employed by the national government (Casey, 2007, p. 9). Almost all Kuwaitis are city dwellers who reside in Kuwait city or one of the other several large towns, such as Al Jahrah and Al Ahmadi, which serve as suburbs for the capital.
Kuwait is a welfare state. The country essentially has no citizens below the poverty line, though domestic workers and the families of foreign workers sometimes endure a relatively meager existence. Living above the poverty line, however, is not the same as enjoying social and economic equality. Despite the historic efforts and recent initiatives of Kuwait’s rulers, there is a large gap in socioeconomic status between most Kuwaitis and those few at the very top of the society. That division has been further exacerbated in the last decade as a new schism has evolved along gender lines. As a Muslim society, Kuwait continues to grapple with the complex issue of civil rights for women(González, 2013, pp. 184-185). Some forward steps have been observed in recent years, but other advancements have been rescinded, at least temporarily. However, it is worth noting that despite these social political problems, Kuwait remains at the leading edge of political and social modernization among Arab nations.
Kuwaitis government structure is a form of constitutional monarchy. Specifically since independence, the tiny nation has been a hereditary emirate: a nation-state ruled by an emir, or prince, who accedes to the throne because of blood ties (Casey, 2007, pp. 11-12). Kuwait’s ruling dynasty comes from the Al-Sabah family which helped found the country in the middle of the eighteen century and, first as sheikhs, at present as emirs. The emir is the formal head of state and along with the prime minister who is named by the emir, oversees the executive branch of government(Al-Sabah, 2013, pp. 49-50).
Al-Sabah, M. (2013). Gender and Politics in Kuwait: Women and Political Participation in the Gulf. I.B.Tauris.
Casey, M. S. (2007). The History of Kuwait. Greenwood Publishing Group.
DiPiazza, F. D. (2006). Kuwait in Pictures (illustrated, revised ed.). Twenty-First Century Books.
González, A. L. (2013). Islamic Feminism in Kuwait: The Politics and Paradoxes. Palgrave Macmillan.
Do you need an Original High Quality Academic Custom Essay?