Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

DWP – Driving While Poor – to Be Outlawed in Kuwait

I’ve been watching the blogs, and I haven’t seen a mention of this, not a whisper. In yesterday’s Kuwait Times, front page, is an article about the proposal that all cars over ten years of age be taken off the road. The intention is to reduce congestion on the road.

I am guessing this will not apply to collectors of classic cars. I imagine this is aimed at the poorest of the poor, driving what they can afford, and holding their car together with prayer, shoestrings and chewing gum.

If Kuwait had a good public transportation system, this might be part of a solution. As it is – do you ever see a woman on a public bus? Taxis are available, but expensive. Domestic workers tell us that when they have any control over their transportation, they only go with a driver they know and trust.

I would guess that most of the cars 10 years and older on the road are owned by people who really need them, to get their children to school, to get to work, and to get groceries, etc. Legend has it that all these old cars on the road were brought in after the 1st Gulf War and sold – at great profit – to people who previously had been unable to own cars. For the working poor, cars give a smattering of dignity and luxury to a life full of scraping by and saving as much as you can. Yeh, the POS car puttering along in front of you is inconvenient, but have a heart – people need their cars, unless there is a good, reliable, decent and reasonably priced public transit system available to men and to women, which there is not.

I am also hearing friends telling me about the rules about driver’s licenses being enforced – you must be working, or you must have a college degree . . . but it is only applied to some, not to all. . .

October 3, 2006 - Posted by | ExPat Life, Family Issues, Kuwait, Middle East, Social Issues, Uncategorized


  1. Sounds a lot like other social laws that give Islam a bad name.

    Comment by circlecast | October 3, 2006 | Reply

  2. i saw that article in the papers that day.

    and it made me laugh cos of this:

    were you here during the elections?

    incase you werent,….

    the elections were held on a thursday morning, with the ballot counting going on that day and the results were to be announced on tv that night.

    now because of this everyone who cared about the elections were with friends and family,… ie most kuwaitis.

    now if youve ever driven anywhere on a thrusday night there are two places to avoid,… hawally and salmiya.

    the roads were absolutely empty that night!!!

    therefore congestion comes from the kuwaitis, plain and simple since one family of 5 can have up to 5 cars in their garage, while poorer expats are more likely to carpool or take the bus.

    Comment by sknk | October 3, 2006 | Reply

  3. Circlecast – I don’t think this has anything to do with Islam/not Islam, I think it is totally secular – a misguided plan to reduce drivers by eliminating any car older than ten years. But (whew) better than deciding women have no place on the roads. 😦

    SKNK – we had a ball that night, ate at the Marina Crescent because we could find a parking place! Woo hoooooo! That was a fun night – we love elections!

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 3, 2006 | Reply

  4. I think that it’s a way to push people buy more cars, spend their money.

    I remember taking the school bus when I was small, now there aren’t any buses for public schools and it costs 200KD a year to pay the private school ones -at least in my nephews school-.

    The problem is not the xpats nor the Kuwaitis. It’s a social problem. No one respects the law in this country especially while driving. When I ask some friends why don’t they respect the speed limits they say “Kaifi Kuwaiti”! Which means that being a Kuwaiti is to be irresponsible and very stupid!

    I think that the worse are police cars; they always tell you to move on so they can pass, but they never do anything about the jam, and when they do it gets even worse.

    Why don’t we have a proper transportation system? It’s like all the rest of public services in Kuwait, they’re public. If the government decides to do something about it then who will steeal all the oil money? Did you know that Kuwait won the 1st place of coruupption among 170 countries?

    Comment by Blue Ice Envy | October 12, 2006 | Reply

  5. Blue Ice: “Did you know that Kuwait won the 1st place of coruupption among 170 countries?”

    No! I thought I remembered reading that Kuwait had actually gotten better on the corruption scale!?

    I see a combination of driving problems.

    1 – It makes me sick to see small children in the front seats of cars, and bouncing around in the back, not buckled in. Small children become missiles in an accident, and are the innocent victims.
    2 – I am heartsick to read the number of young men and women who die on the road every day. It would break a parent’s heart. And it seems to me that most of them are Kuwaiti. So much life to live, and poof! It’s gone.
    3 – Arrogance is catching. I watch ex-pats start to drive with the same aggression; they say “if you don’t drive aggressively, you become a problem”. It’s just an excuse to drive aggressively.
    4 – you are right – if the police don’t respect the law, they abuse their power – then laws stop having meaning. If laws aren’t enforced, then they really aren’t laws.

    Thank you, Blue Ice, for your thoughtful – and thought provoking – comment.

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 12, 2006 | Reply

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