Maybe I'm wrong - the last 2 could be companies, but WTF. They've bought a listing of phone numbers, don't you think they would have people's nationalities also? Stop blowing up my phone and waking me up, a-holes.
Interesting Erection Factoid: There are approximately 400,000 eligible Kuwaiti voters for this election, comprising a 50/50 split of male and female voters.
Yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with a Kuwaiti friend. He gave me his perspective of he elections and food for thought. I asked him who he was voting for and he stopped and said, "You know. I really don't know. I was going to vote for the same guys I always vote for; the ones my family votes for; the guys I went to school with.
But then I went to another candidate's speech. She simply said one thing that made me reconsider, 'Don't vote locally. Vote globally. Kuwait needs people who are well-versed at international politics rather than tribal politics with the education and experience we need to take us forward.' So I thought about the guys I usually vote for and they really don't have what it will take. Of course, they all want to do what is best for Kuwait - they all should.
There are also new, young, fresh candidates out there this time and what they have to say is very good, but they just don't have the experience to back up their intent.
I don't think that it will matter who I vote for because if things stay the way they are now, nothing will change and this will be another ineffective parliament. We are like Lebanon: We've got so many secular groups in parliament: Shiite, Sunni, Bedouin, conservative, ultra-conservative, moderate, etc. (DG - there are approximately 7 groups in parliament) and each is working on it's own agenda. Divided, none will ever work together and there will be no progress."
He went on to say, "What Kuwait needs is political parties. That way, they can work on unified platforms/agendas. So, if one group wins, so be it, but at least we will be moving forward, not stagnating."
"As it is now, MPs can only monitor the government, not make any real change. That's why I don't believe in any parliament that can work this way. It isn't about the candidates, it's about the system. It needs to change."
DG: I am quoting because this is what my friend actually said - not me. But it gave me an interesting perspective. There simply can not be unity when the country is so divided.
I really do love Kuwait. I hate to see what is happening here. It's stagnating and not just in a quiet/harmless way.
This election is different than previous in the number of foreign journalists in Kuwait. I've been approached by several TV networks (US and Australian) to give my perspective as a blogger. That's new (and way flattering!). I love how my friends warn me, "Don't say anything bad about Kuwait." Dudes! You don't know me by now? (Note, I haven't given an interview yet and when/if I do, it will remain anonymous. No names. No face. I was actually planning to wear niqab and a tiara. What do you think?)
The interest in Kuwait may be a new take on the Arab Spring. Kuwait has it's own unique problems and never before in Kuwait's history has it witnessed such violence prior to elections.
This week's riots only drive that sentiment further home. One or two people can incite the entire Bedouin population of Kuwait to pure rage - and within days before elections.
Story: Approximately 3 days ago, a single candidate (Juwaiyhel) insulted a large Bedouin tribe (Mutairi). The tribe then burnt the candidate's election tent to the ground. The following night, I heard (I could be wrong) that as many as 60,000 Bedouins of different families/tribes gathered to show their support and to appeal to the Government not to allow a candidate to further divide the country in this manner. The candidate has left the country (again, from what I have heard). This country was formed through Bedouin tribal wars and alliances. Do not awaken a sleeping giant. All it takes is one spark (ha ha - get it. Burning down a tent... get it?)...
Prior to this, peaceful demonstrations in Taima, Jahra, to the North of Kuwait turned violent. Bedoons* (people who for generations have not been given ANY nationality and remain stateless without passports, official documents, healthcare, secured living, etc) protested as the Government has promised to end their status problems and nothing has happened/little progress has been made in terms of rights. There are approximately 100,000 Bedoons in Kuwait. Of that, they say that approximately 30,000 have legitimate reason to be naturalized. 30,000 people who are mostly Bedouin with the potential future ability to swing votes (their numbers increase every year as more Bedoons are born into families). With the onset of the Arab Spring, people in different political situations have found their voice. Bedoons used this as a time to raise their voice in protest. I won't go into further details in reference to Taima and the political situation here, but you can read my re-prints from media including YouTube.
Internet Police: I'm not stating anything new here - this is all available on the internet and in print.
- *I feel I always have to add a disclaimer because there will be people who will write in to say, "Those Bedoons came into Kuwait during 90/91 trying to get nationality and money from the Government. They are all liars and thieves." Em, I have quite a different view: While I agree that there are some who did this, there are many more who were here prior to the 1965 census - that landed them in a position of being stateless. There have been DNA tests to determine who is who (which is controversial in itself - charging each person 85KD for a mandatory test and then never providing the results). End the suffering of those who should be granted nationality.
- Please note the difference between "Bedoon" and "Bedouin". Bedoon refers to those with no nationality; Bedouin are those who come from a tribal background - similar to Native American Indians in many ways. (Just look at Bedouin weavings and Navajo for example. Reservations vs Taima. Similarities. Fassssscinating.)
I've talked to western people from various countries at various levels (including from some embassies) and we all go along, rather nonchalantly living our lives and having a great time. (Although a few have thrown the term "go-bag" around - which is really alarming.)
Hey - what's in your go-bag?
I hope you western people living in Kuwait are taking note. All appears calm as we go to our jobs and socialize between ourselves, but it is really in your own best interest to become knowledgeable about where you live. Gather perspectives. Watch the foreign news. Occasionally do a Google search on Kuwait to see what pops up. Pay attention:
There is an undercurrent right below the murky waters.
So like, how was your weekend? :)