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Expat wanderer

Kuwait Attorneys Defend Constitution

From today’s Al Watan:

Attorneys defend the Constitution
A group of young attorneys gather in front of the Palace of Justice on Tuesday to declare a new movement to defend the Constitution and its values. Nearly 100 female and male lawyers took part in the gathering. (Al Watan)

Last updated on Wednesday 18/2/2009

That’s it. That’s all there is. This photo, and the above two-sentence article:


It feels significant, but the significance is opaque to me. Can someone give me an idea why this group formed, and against what encroachments are they are defending the Kuwait Constitution?

February 18, 2009 Posted by | Character, Communication, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Law and Order, Leadership, Living Conditions, News, Poetry/Literature, Social Issues | 6 Comments

Don’t Trash My Kuwait

You know how ideas are . . . they some in flashes sometimes, and other times they trickle through a lot of material before appearing . . . you catch glimpses, and then one day the idea is complete.

Kuwaitis are proud people, and they love their country deeply.

That’s why I can’t understand how they can allow Kuwait to be so covered in trash and filth. I don’t understand why people just inches away from a trash can will toss a tissue on the ground. I don’t understand why there are plastic bags blowing around in the desert.

So here is a public service campaign idea. It puts Kuwaitis at the center. I would love to see a series of magazine ads, billboards, bus ads, etc. with real Kuwaitis who are making a difference, with the theme Don’t trash my Kuwait.

I know there is a new recycle group in Kuwait, who pick up recyclables – for free. I don’t know their name, but my heart was so happy when I heard about this group. Start with them, one photo, showing them holding things like plastic milk jugs and bags, newspapers, and give them a little free publicity, and get the campaign started. Their information is small print, big campaign slogan Don’t Trash My Kuwait.

Second photo, the volunteer group that goes underwater and rids the gulf of abandoned nets and trash, still in the water, holding the kinds of trash they collect, trying to rescue the Gulf: Don’t Trash My Kuwait.

Third photo, one of the volunteer beach clean-up groups with their bags and bags of litter: Don’t Trash My Kuwait.

Fourth photo – guy in traditional Kuwaiti dress with a falcon on his arm, trite, yes, but I still love it. I just don’t know how to tie it in to the campaign, LOL.

Fifth photo: 3baid, holding up handsfull of flyers, computer in the immediate background with PaperDump on the screen: Don’t Trash My Kuwait.

Don’t you just love it?

Your turn: additional photos/ groups / ideas for the Don’t Trash My Kuwait campaign.

Here’s how it started. At the top of an exit ramp the other day, we saw a man unbuckle his seatbelt, exit his car and place a bag in the trash receptacle. We clapped; he pumped his arms in the Rocky-esque victory signal. It was a glorious moment. I’d love to have more of them.

Yes, I’m an ex-pat, but I live here. Don’t Trash My Kuwait!

February 18, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Character, Communication, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Hygiene, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Marketing, Social Issues | 26 Comments

Thoughtful Opposition to proposed new Labor Law

”Segregating between women, men against human values”
Ghenwah Jabouri
Staff Writer

KUWAIT: There have been recent debates about the new Labor Law that is expected to go into motion soon. One aspect of the law, which 43 MPs voted in favour of during its first session, will prevent women working between the hours of 10 p.m. till 7 a.m. Many experts and individuals are questioning this law and challenging it, arguing that such a law goes against basic human rights. This topic is a contentious one and is seen by many as a setـback to women rights in Kuwait. Imposing this law will be difficult and unfeasible, argued many experts.

Labeed Abdal, attorney at law, Constitutional expert, and Head of the International Committee at the Kuwait Bar Association, said that the new draft law was a result of the Parliament, which still included some members who were “against women’s rights and the prevention from working at night, was related to some cases against some clubs and cafes depended in their services on ladies at night. However, this restriction was not realistic, especially when there are many female doctors or journalists and other women professionals that need to do their job in any time of the day.”

The expert went on to explain reactions about the new amendments related to the draft law. “So far, the new draft has received criticism from the local unions, women’s societies and above all the International Labor Organization (ILO), especially on the areas of canceling the sponsorship system, protecting the low paid and house workers, unions for foreign workers and the need to allow group cases.”

In regard to women workers, the law was criticized because it imposed new restrictions on women working at night, where the new law prevented women from working from 10 p.m. till 7 a.m. excluding hospitals.
“This restriction historically, was related to some restaurants, entertainment clubs and shisha cafes, where they depended on some women workers in late hours to attract customers and there were few incidents of women abuse and harassment that took place and was brought to the local/international media and the Parliament discussions,” Abdal explained.

He further said the matter could be organized by administrative measures to regulate those shops and oblige them to make necessary changes; for example, requesting the commercial license to provide the needed security and protection for women workers during the night. And providing safe transportation and to make sure that work in that area of business came after the consent of the worker.

“There is no need to prevent women from working at night in general as there are many professions that requires women to work during the night. These jobs include the professions of: doctors, lawyers, journalists, etc. Any generalization in that case is considered against the principles of equality which were mentioned in the constitution of Kuwait and can be considered as sexual discrimination between men and women which were prevented by the international conventions of civil and human rights and Kuwait has already signed,” the lawyer pointed out.

Abdal added that the new draft came closer to the ILO requirements to protect the working women’s rights. Moreover, it added some benefits which were not previously mentioned especially the benefits and holidays after pregnancy that would elevate equality in the workplace. The new law included some new changes, after the old law which was issued in 1964. The new law was approved in the first debate in the Parliament and will be reـdiscussed by the Parliament in the coming session.

“The new law has some new benefits, like improving the minimum wage, fighting visa traders, and providing more benefits to the working women after pregnancy,” he added however.

“The new Labor Law was long been awaited by labor unions and even from expatriates, especially the minimum wage issue, and we can say that it amended 70 percent of the old law which was released in 1964.”

Maryam AlـKandari, a Political Science Professor at Kuwait University said: “We need to think beyond the law; one cannot practice it as it is. We need to go beyond how much it will affect women and not only the nonـKuwaiti women but also Kuwaiti women.”

“NonـKuwaiti women are living in this society and there is a lot of misbehaviour towards these women and we should care about these women whether or not she is a Kuwaiti or a nonـKuwaiti,” she explained.

The political scientist pointed out that first, people needed to understand whom are they applying this law on; the Kuwaitis or the expats and the reasons behind applying the law and most importantly, “how are you going to apply this law? It is not achievable,” the expert stated.

“I have heard comments from some of the women say that they do not want to work after 7:00 p.m. Unfortunately, the majority of women are very shortـsighted because they are looking for their own interests. This law may work for them but not our daughters. In other words, the law is not practical, and even if it were to go with today”s society it may not necessarily suit future generations,” the academic explained.

“Restricting women”s duties according to time is absurd, and we need to fight for our rights. What we need is some organisations to hold a seminar, and undertake research such as an NGO organisation, socioـeconomic society where not only women but men too will undertake study to determine how such a law will affect our lives in the future and now,” she pointed out.

“Women who practice law, women who are political professors such as myself need to look into this issue more thoroughly, by looking at the weakness of this law and have a conference whereby we make a symposium relevant to the law,” the academic lamented.

AlـKandari emphasised that she was a human being before being a woman. “When you view yourself as a human being before being a woman, you will become more neutral and objective rather than being subjective and shortـsighted.”

The academic further pointed out that society today was very fortunate because the Amir of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced recently that he would appoint a woman as Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Higher Education. “That offers us a beautiful relief for us Kuwaitis. We used to be pressured by other societies, whereas now we have been given a wonderful opportunity to move forward; other societies are changing and so should we,” the academic pointed out.

“Ultimately, we need to debate this law through a wider perspective and the new media. We need to address the younger generation by publicising the issue on facebook and other mediums that the younger generation use and not only through television and newspapers. Finding ways to engage the younger generation on this issue is important, this law does not only concern experts and academics, rather it concerns a society at large and everyone should have their say in this topic,” AlـKandari noted strongly.

Thabet AlـHaroun, Head of the International Labor Organization (ILO) highlighted issues dealing with the new Labor Law, saying that issuing it in the private sector became an inevitable necessity after its delay for more than thirty years. “Therefore we are pushing towards its adoption in its final form, even though we have comments on it,” he said.

“In respect to women’s work, definitely the rights as enclosed in the new Labor Law are better than the current applied law, it also carries in its articles more rights for the working women that were missing, and it regulates the work of women at night.”

He added: “The work of women at night is subject to regulatory decisions from the concerned Minister, and I hope that it will not be an obstacle for women in the workforce.”

“Furthermore, the law came to achieve justice and equality and it is in favour of all parties (government, employers and workers). It is a qualitative step towards the application of international labor standards and conventions. Thus, all parties will benefit from issuing this new Labor Law, whereby Kuwait will be able to achieve a main component of sustainable development where women play an important part,” AlـHaroun pointed out.

AlـHaroun pointed out that under the current law, women were not being given their full rights, whereas the new Labor Law considered the fact that women play a significant role in the labor market. “Therefore urging women to engage in the private sector instead of depending on work in the public sector; the new proposed law ensures many rights that might not be flawless, but is an important development for women,” he added.

“In my opinion, and according to my reading of the law, it does not constitute any hindrance to women’s work and does not diminish women’s rights. Even though we have some comments on the new law, this does not call us or women to reject the adoption of this evolving law in comparison to the previous one.

Women could effectively participate in the workers” organizations and prove her ability to challenge and therefore emphasizes that she is an important partner in the social and economic development process. Rights are not granted but it is a right to be seized. No matter how many articles we put either for women or men, if they don”t prove their abilities and commitment in their work and face the challenges and difficulties that cross their paths, then they will not be able to reach their goals,” he explained.

“I would like here to refer to the role of the employers” and workers” organizations in engaging women in various activities and events and opening the way for women to prove their presence enable women to resist the campaigns aimed to distance her and diminish her role as an essential partner of the community,” the official stressed.

The expert further stressed that “real development cannot be attained if women are absent from decision making and taking.”

AlـHaroun further emphasized that the proposed law supported women”s rights and enhanced her presence to a large extent. He remarked: “Moreover, women have to benefit from this significant achievement, and not await any grants, but to work and persevere and strive side by side with the male figure.”
AlـHaroun explained that “The ILO”s theme for International Women”s Day this year is “Work and Family,” and we want a working woman productive and capable of effectively participating in the economic growth. But at the same time, we need women to surround their families, caring for them and be the core of the advanced society. She should be able to combine her responsibilities at work and her role in a happy successful family.”

Brian Katulis, an editor at Freedom House, a United Statesـbased international nonـgovernmental organization, stated in a study entitled “Women”s Rights In Focus: Kuwait, Findings From Focus Groups With Kuwaitis On Women”s Rights,” that the need to “control” women and their sexuality is a frequent part of Kuwaiti men”s discussions about societal change.

“It is at this complex nexus of societal change, with all of the pushes of modernity and globalisation and the tugs of religion and tribe, where much of the debate in Kuwait on women”s rights takes place.”

This article is the first in a two part series which examines a proposed amendment to the Labor Law which would restrict women working between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. ـ Editor

Last updated on Wednesday 18/2/2009

February 18, 2009 Posted by | Communication, Community, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Interconnected, Kuwait, Law and Order, Leadership, Living Conditions, News, Political Issues, Social Issues, Women's Issues | , | Leave a comment

Sunrise, 18 February 2009


As you can see, there is a very thick band of something . . . clouds? pollution? that the sun could not break through until it was inches above the horizon. The haze is diminished today, but still there. It isn’t orange, so if it is sand, it is more local sand, not that orange stuff that comes down every now and then from the Jordanian / Iraqi desert.

It is also starting to get hot. Yesterday, the forecast high was 80°F, but with all the haze, I don’t think it got there. This is the forecast for the rest of the week:


February 18, 2009 Posted by | ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Weather | Leave a comment