This is the first of a three-part series of articles on vision of Kuwait’s future and the stability of its people.
By Saud Al-Arfaj
|I’m not a columnist or a journalist. This article is not to criticize anyone but to shed light on some of the negativities of my homeland and offer solutions.|
I always hear the citizens criticizing and complaining, but nobody offers solutions. As a citizen of Kuwait and a businessman, my love for the country and my people, and given the current sad state of affairs, I feel it is my duty to serve my country even if it means by expressing my opinion.
Each time I travel to more advanced countries such as Scandinavia and Japan, I feel deeply sad. I feel a lump in my throat and I get heart pains when I see the progress made by them in all fields and I ask myself when will Kuwait reach that level and start competing with the advanced nations.
It is amazing that every time I tell a foreigner that I am from Kuwait, the response is ‘Oh, you come from a rich country’. The truth is we are rich in oil but poor in education, morals, industry, advancement and development although our population is just 1.3 million.
In light of the current dangerous circumstances the Arab region is passing through, where conflicts, the ongoing geopolitical changes and other major events, particularly in the Gulf region, which remain volatile and the accompanying dangerous repercussions, we need to be aware of those situations and ready to face the coming hard times especially in the face of continuous decline in the prices of oil.
For the deterioration of the oil prices, the reasons are many, including increase in oil production by the exporting countries such as Iran, Qatar, Algeria, Russia and others producing shale gas, oil, and the shale oil as an alternative source of energy.
I believe the oil prices will not return to its original benchmark, and this is what Christine Lagarde the Director General of the International Monetary Fund said when she addressed the Gulf countries ‘adapt to the era of cheap oil forum.’
At the local level, there is no doubt that we are facing difficult times in many ways. The implications are obvious. The citizens are grumbling about rampant corruption, the high cost of living, lack of stability, inequality, rampant nepotism and favoritism and rumors of disputes among family members.
It is really unfortunate to see people pouring their sorrows, complaints, and confusions on social media via the YouTube. Such problems should have not existed in a small and rich country like Kuwait.
The evolution of technology and the proliferation of social media have helped spread the news and events very quickly, and people continue to repeat as they receive them in no time. We have reached a time where we can hide nothing.
The number of the unemployed has reached nearly 21,000 most of whom are graduates, and that number is increasing, plus the new graduates Kuwait produces between 8,000 and 10,000 thousand every year.
Is it possible for a state like Kuwait to complain about unemployment while nearly 70 percent of the total manpower is expatriates who consume between 30 and 40 billion dollars a year? Is it not better to keep this wealth inside Kuwait?
All of these problems in a small-size country like Kuwait are a time-bomb and a real disaster. In spite of we knowing this fact and doing nothing to end this misfortune, is even a bigger tragedy, but if we do not know about it then it is a bitter reality. Moreover, Kuwait continuing to depend on oil income for 95 percent of its needs is a catastrophe.
We are facing a real problem that requires deep thinking and find rapid solutions. If we look at the neighboring countries, we will find for example, that the UAE has reduced its dependence on oil income by 30 percent, and has announced that over the next five years it will continue to reduce dependence on oil by another 3 percent.
From my point of view Kuwait needs to adopt a four-pronged strategy to rescue the country — political, social, economy and security.
System of government: I wish for transforming Kuwait from an emirate into a ‘Constitutional Monarchy’ as history has proved the success of constitutional monarchies such as Japan, Holland, Britain, Canada and the Scandinavian and even some Arab monarchies which are usually characterized by political, economic and social stability.
We are confident that His Highness the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah is capable of taking Kuwait to safe shores because of his vast experience and his awareness of the regional changes.
Here we cannot forget the power of the Kuwaiti people and the sacrifices they have made throughout history during hard times. Nobody denies the coherent relationship between both the Kuwaitis and the Al-Sabah Dynasty since the establishment of Kuwait.
We remember the honorable situations of the people and Al-Sabah Family during the Battle of Jahra in 1920 and the Iraqi invasion and occupation of the country in 1990 that made them cling to the legitimacy of the Al-Sabah family.
The rate of the Kuwaiti youth and most of the Gulf countries is between 17 and 35 years and is the biggest among the other categories of the people. Investment in the youth is the first step towards advancement. We need to follow the steps taken by other Gulf countries and appoint the youth in senior positions. I am sure the Kuwaiti youth are equally competent like their peers in other Gulf States.
The National Assembly: In the advanced countries, the role of the national assembly is to enact laws and control the Executive Authority. It is also to look into future development plans that sometimes cover the policies of the country for 30 to 50 years.
In those countries most MPs are capable of enacting proper laws while most of our MPs breach the laws taking advantage of their positions to offer illegal services for their voters. It is common during Parliament sessions to see an MP asking a minister to complete some transactions. This shows to what extent we suffer from parliamentary ignorance and that has resulted in inequality and frustration among the people and the spread of bribery and corruption.
An MP should be highly qualified so as to be able to discuss and understand the laws. It is sad to say among our MPs we find people who are illiterate, while others have just primary education.
Here I suggest adding a subject called Democracy to the school and university curriculums to impart on the students the true meaning of a Parliament and its true duties in addition to teaching them the proper criteria of voting.
In this context I suggest suspending the parliamentary life for a period of up to three years, and the appointment of a national salvation council comprising the educated young whose mission will be to put Kuwait on the track of renaissance and enable the youth to establish the principles of stability both in the society and the state.
The Council of Ministers: I wish the first Deputy Prime Minister is not a member of the ruling family. An opportunity should be given for the youth to promote their country and pump new blood and modern ideas and skills that will benefit the nation.
I make an appeal to every minister in the government, after being appointed will full powers, to send delegations from his ministry to the developed countries for the latest achievements they have made in various fields and apply them in Kuwait, instead of getting lost in the maze of issuing decisions according to the mood of each minister and cancelling decision issued by his predecessor based on his personal whims.
To be continued tomorrow