Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Joy in Kuwait


You might think it is the inner feminist in me that is rejoicing, and you would be only half right. The Kuwait elections brought me a lot of joy, for many reasons. First, as an equal opportunity woman, you need to know that I believe women are every bit as capable of veniality and stupidity as men, and that not being in power has only meant not having equal opportunity to abuse that power. And then – you take a look at the women who were elected – smart women. Capable women! Not-your-shy-shrinking-violet kind of women! Women who know how to organize, how to delegate, and how to discuss and resolve differences.

FOUR women! Four highly educated women, who inspired droves of supporters not only to vote – but also to campaign.

Across the board, it struck me as a very sober election. It was as if people thought this might be their last chance, and they took their vote very very seriously. In the fifth district, voters crossed tribal lines, broke with rigid alliances.

Here are three conversations that caused me to rejoice.

On election day, my good Kuwaiti friend, a guy about the same age as AdventureMan and I, leaned over and said “My dear, today I voted for a Shiite woman! This is Kuwait! This is the REAL Kuwait, where no-one ever cared, Shiite or Sunni, no-one ever asked, we all worked together. I voted for her because I thought she was the best candidate.”

He’s been educating me on Kuwait ever since we got here. He grew up about a block from the big food court down at Mubarakiyya. I was just glad to know he had voted – he had seemed so dejected, so hopeless after the last election, I wasn’t sure he would even give it one more try. Something inspired him. Something gave him the courage to hope just one more time.

I talked with a young friend who was active in the campaign of a winning candidate. Well, really mostly SHE talked, and I just listened with a big grin on my face. It doesn’t even matter who she campaigned for, this woman was PUMPED! She had committed, she had engaged, she was on the phones and on the campaign lines and her candidate won! I could hear the transformation in her voice – this is the Kuwait of tomorrow.

At an earlier time, she had told me that the decisions were all made by “elderly” people (meaning people over 40, I think, people like me!) and that young people were getting discouraged, waiting for their turn. All that was gone, as I listened to her voice. She knows she can make a difference NOW in Kuwait. I could not stop grinning. I think she is one of the leaders of tomorrow. 🙂

My third Kuwaiti friend said to me “so many of the winners were from good families, but not the big, rich families! This is the first time!” and she said it with sheer amazement. She said “I think we may be on our way to a true democracy!” I was shocked. I never thought I would hear those words, not after the cynicism and discouragement apparent during the last legislature, when many Kuwaits awoke with a shock to the fact that their legislature had been hijacked, their voices stolen. “This is not the real Kuwait” they kept assuring me after the last election, as they watched in shock and horror as the newly elected MP’s postured and promised and promised “grillings” but did nothing for the population who had elected them in terms of basics – housing, roads, electricity/energy, or groundwork for future development.

My joy is in the renewal of their spirit. It’s not my election. But oh, I dance with joy for your joy, Kuwait, and I celebrate your commitment to the future.

PS For our non-Kuwaiti readers – early in the election campaigns, one party announced a religious fatwa (edict) saying that it was forbidden to vote for women. I think it outraged people badly enough to create a huge backlash.

May 18, 2009 - Posted by | Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Leadership, News, Political Issues, Social Issues, Women's Issues


  1. A breath of fresh air in dusty Kuwait 🙂

    I am feeling almost too optimistic. Kuwait has achieved some great changes in the past 10 years – the fruits of which are the election reults! The recent ramblings in parliament created the perfect ground for people seeking change. Candidates and voters alike, changed their way of thinking. We Kuwaitis suddenly woke up!

    The words of the Emir couldn’t be more effective and timely – and we did what he requested: Helped him by voting responsibly.

    I hope the ministers match their counterparts and this country leaps forward to its original pole position – both in the Gulf and Middle East region.

    Keep going Kuwait… It doesn’t get easier – but it does get BETTER and BETTER.

    Comment by Bu Yousef | May 18, 2009 | Reply

  2. Wooo HOOOO, Bu Yousef! I am hearing so much optimism, and so much commitment, so much willingness to get involved and support new initiatives. . . you nailed it – a real breath of fresh air.

    Comment by intlxpatr | May 18, 2009 | Reply

  3. You should have seen me at work today. Even one of my colleagues noted that I just looked ecstatic. 🙂 Alhamdilla. I have faith a little more faith in this parliament. But like you said, more power does mean more of a chance to screw up. Their road has just begun. Let’s see where it takes them.

    Comment by 1001 Nights | May 18, 2009 | Reply

  4. It’s a breath of fresh air for Kuwait and the whole region. you should see the comments in the blogs and news websites everyone is happy. This elections will give more pressure on leaders and monarchs to grant more freedoms to there people.

    I’m more prouder of Kuwait today than i’ve ever been. I think younger Kuwaiti girls looking up at the new female MP’s and saying someday i could be like them or Prime Minister, soon I hope.

    Comment by AMD | May 18, 2009 | Reply

  5. 1001 Nights – Not where it takes THEM. Where it takes Kuwait! Once the people get involved, actively, once they commit, and I think we just saw that commitment, MP’s are under greater scrutiny. There are penalties for corruption, for bad choices, bad positions. There is greater accountability.

    I am hoping we will see greater vision, and a cohesive plan for Kuwait’s future. Mabruk, and woo HOOO on YOU, Alf Leila!

    AMD – I am guessing there are some who are not happy, and they are keeping silent for now. I am waiting to see what happens when the Parliament comes together – I am hoping that the energy generated by this election and its outcome builds, and generates more citizen participation. That is my hope and prayer for Kuwait, that Kuwaitis work together for a sustainable future.

    God bless you for that last sentence. I hadn’t thought of that. Hadn’t dared dream of that. You are right – WOW. A whole new realm has opened. 🙂

    Comment by intlxpatr | May 19, 2009 | Reply

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  8. Great post as usual Intlxpatr – im glad it all worked out…whew, i was beginning to lose faith, but you know something Kuwaitis have always been the vanguard of progress and rights and equality – I am very proud now

    Comment by | May 19, 2009 | Reply

  9. Oh my friend, I know how committed and engaged you have been. What delights me the most is how amazed all the people are go gave it one last shot – it is almost like they are stunned with happiness. You know, better than most, the hard work of governing – but getting the right people into office makes all the difference. There are many able legislators in this coming session, sober, dedicated, willing to work together with the government – it is a formula for overcoming many of the difficulties of the past.

    Comment by intlxpatr | May 20, 2009 | Reply

  10. […] noto blogger espatriato Intlxpatr [in] su ‘Here, There and Everywhere‘ esulta con i fratelli e le sorelle kuwaitiane progressisti […]

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