Saturday , September 23 2023

O leadership … Kuwait is not ‘Garden of Eden’

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O LEADERSHIP, pardon us for being this vocal, but we have no one but you, after Almighty Allah, to complain to.

Whatever we are talking about is not a riddle, but rather a bitter truth that makes us thirsty with every new dawn when we see that the country, which used to be the beacon of the Gulf a few decades ago, has been afflicted with diseases related to aging ideas that almost devour its body.

It is suffocating because of deliberate closure as a result of the outdated laws that people did not accept even during the eras of European darkness and had rebelled against them.

How is it that the skin of a country like Kuwait has been peeled off by the force of the different factions, and by ailing with what is known as suspicion complexity of the others? For three decades, all the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council worked towards opening up, developing their economies, and seeking help from others for further development.

Today, the United Arab Emirates has turned into an international tourism and investment hub, and opened its doors to everyone. One of its airports – Dubai Airport – receives 100 million passengers annually. About 40 percent of them sleep one night in the city’s hotels, which generates more than 80 million dirhams for the state.

Also, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has set a goal of receiving 100 million tourists in less than five years, has brushed off all the rags of backwardness and the judgment of intentions.

Its constant festivals are now generating billions for the state, and its industrial and service base and various other sources of income have made it among the 20 largest economies in the world. It is proceeding with plans to open up to the world.

As for the Sultanate of Oman, which has been distinguished over the past decades as a tourist destination, it recently announced the development of several facilities and cities, and opened its doors to all nationalities.

Bahrain has worked over recent years to develop its tourism movement, offshore banks and international services facilities. It has been able to strengthen its sovereign assets.

Today it is enough to look at Qatar, the international football event that will be held there for a month, and the returns from sports tourism in order for us to know the extent of development it has achieved in a few years.

In fact, it has turned into one of the sources of income for the Gulf countries. There is no doubt that the wheel of development has turned and will not stop even after the end of the World Cup.

Now what about Kuwait? It is afflicted with a lot of controversies and lack of work. It has laws and decisions that are baseless, in which tourism is prohibited. A visit visa is issued only with almost impossible specifications. It is forbidden for a young man or woman to visit lest enticing people.

Our hotels are almost empty, our markets suffer from recession, and we have a thousand excuses to lock the country. When we talk about the need for openness, groups still living in the caves of Tora Bora and the basements of Hezbollah, ISIS and Al-Qaeda revolt?! No Kuwaiti dares to talk about the development and progress in the Gulf countries because he will be confronted by those who resort to an unjust comparison with the lowest and not the best. In fact, the extremists will describe other people as morally decadent and to have turned from religion, as if we are the only ones who believe in Allah and the Last Day.

It is as if this nation, which has been nurtured on true and tolerant Islam far from fanaticism and sectarian strife in their view, doesn’t know Islam! O leadership, too many cooks spoil the broth; in fact, they poison it.

In the aforementioned countries, there is one decision from one man – the ruler – assisted by deputies and ministers.

The democracy that we sing about is not the only one in this world, but we are the only people who are controlled by those who imposed their will over others through intellectual intimidation, and subordinated the state to their goals.

What Kuwait needs is the will to implement in order to return to what it was previously – an oasis of thought and openness, a source of cultural and artistic inspiration, tourism, and a trust in the administration of education – in order for us to have outputs that are parallel to the global movement of progress.

We need to get out of the tunnels of suspicion and fear of the others, and open up to the world, instead of being under the illusion that those who enter Kuwait are entering the Garden of Eden.

Indeed, all the Gulf countries are today like heaven in every sense of the word, while we live in hell.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times