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Open our doors to Schengen heaven

THE reciprocity policy is a natural aspect of relations between countries. Kuwaitis should understand this before approaching the European Union Parliament to demand an exemption from the Schengen visa. Kuwaitis are no different from others, so they should not feel their demands must be met immediately because God favors them.

They should not be deceived into thinking that Kuwait is the ‘Garden of Eden’, which people want to visit to enjoy its wonderful tourism sites. We have no tourist attractions and we lack recreational centers. We do not give tourists the facilities available in neighboring countries, which offer visa-free entry to some nationalities. What do we have that may encourage the European Union to treat us differently from others? Look around you, what can you offer to deserve reciprocity. Don’t Kuwaitis move out in large number through the airport and land borders, along with expatriates, to spend their holidays abroad?

The European Union did not grant visa-free entry to UAE citizens without basis. This step was taken due to the fact that the UAE has attractive tourist facilities; far beyond what we provide. Europeans enter the UAE without any fear of losing their freedom and rights, which are clearly stipulated in the laws of the country.  The United Kingdom exempted Omanis and citizens of some other GCC countries from the short-stay visa, because these nations have laid down laws which guarantee the freedom of tourists, in addition to their fascinating infrastructure. What do we have in Kuwait?

Amend your laws before you demand for entry visa exemption from other countries. The amendment process should start by adjusting the age requirement for female visitors as the current law prohibits foreign women, below 40 years old, to enter the country on tourist visa. The policy also affects those who wish to invite their sisters aged below 40 years. You stipulated the same condition for the Chinese when you granted them entry visa waiver. What will you tell Europeans whose daughters or sisters below age 40 want to visit them here? Will you allow only Europeans above 40 to enter the country or you will lay down conditions for the tourists to close their eyes to enjoy our beautiful sceneries? Will you allow young men to enter or prevent them under the pretext that they cause problems to women or you will select visitors based on their pictures?

We are concerned about our traditions and norms when the issue is about foreigners, but it is normal for Kuwaitis to travel abroad where they disregard traditions and norms. The country is against visitors exercising their freedom to eat, dress up and travel. We should admit that our problem is not about getting visa exemption; but our laws which prevent people from visiting us, even for transit.

This is in addition to arrogance that prevents us from seeing the reality. Our problem is our backward laws, as well as the extreme social pressure blocs which intend to close the country while lamenting that it is lagging behind its neighbors. We have been seeing campaigns to demand for Schengen visa exemption from the European Union member-states for some months now, while a National Assembly delegation is currently in Brussels for this purpose. However, did we look into the possibility of amending our laws to meet even the most basic standards set by the European Union? Are we convinced that we use our laws to isolate ourselves from the world?

Visa-free entry into European countries is our problem alone, yet the people of those countries do not lose sleep over whether Kuwait will facilitate procedures for their entry or not. To put it simply, they do not find anything interesting to visit us. They prefer neighboring states where they find comfort. If you want these countries to deal with us in the same way they deal with our neighbors; you should act like the neighboring nations and their citizens, then everything will fall into place.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

By: Ahmed Al-Jarallah

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