IT WAS not strange for half a million people to leave the country during the National and Liberation Days last week, heading to destinations where they found what they have been denied in their country.
The fact is that Kuwait is no longer a country of happiness, culture and innocent entertainment. Kuwait fell into the trap of ‘anti-happinessim’ imposed by edgy factions that always strive to restrict, harass, anonymize and intellectually stagnate people.
During the two National Days last week when everyone was supposed to be celebrating in their country, citizens traveled as the social and obscurantism forces banned National Days celebrations in Mubarakiya Heritage Market where people would have witnessed history of the nation and its people.
However, the festive national week passed without any festival in the heritage market due to the ban. The uptight anti-happiness factions regard such festivities as negative and strange phenomena in our community.
Frankly, such celebrations are part of the Kuwaiti inherent tradition that challenged the era of pearl diving with happiness upon the return of sailors. They celebrated every occasion, during which they sang and danced.
They did all that without being considered heretic. However, the situation changed due to the dominance of political factions coating themselves with religious bias in order to achieve objectives reflected in the ‘Brotherhood’, al-Qaeda, Taleban and ISIS whose desires include cutting heads and clouding people’s reasoning and behavior.
Since the situation is like this, we have to admit that Kuwait has split identity. On one hand, it wants to become a global commercial and financial hub, as well as world-class tourism destination like some of its neighbors. On the other hand, it forms a parliamentary committee called ‘negative phenomena.’ We have yet to know what those negative phenomena are.
We ban concerts and entertainment activities. We also ban some nationalities from entering the country for tourism. All this resulted in empty hotels throughout the year and the occupancy rate of the ones which operate does not exceed 30 percent.
Many shops and restaurants shut down. Youths do not get breathing space; hence, they escape to other countries whenever they get a chance, even on weekends. Our airports are crowded with outbound passengers on Thursday and arrivals on Saturday every week.
How can Kuwait become a tourist destination or commercial and financial hub in such a situation in which rigid laws based on suspicion and second guessing are prevalent? How can an investor feel safe in a country living in this kind of isolation?
Other GCC countries are opening up to the world. Even the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has a religious characteristic, started to open its doors for local tourism; significantly easing pressure on its institutions and reducing by half the number of departures to spend holidays outside the country in the past two years.
The same happened in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar; while Kuwait is going towards the opposite direction. The world is progressing while we are going backwards.
It is as if we are striving to transform the society into the likes of ISIS. People used to be patrons of Arab enlightenment in theater, song and culture before the fundamentalists muffed them and fought against alcohol to make our youths exposed to narcotics without finding a solution to the problem they created.
As a result, our society is on top of the Gulf, and perhaps in the Arab world, in terms of narcotics epidemic. This raises the question: Does rigidity of laws aim to push our youths to such a destructive slope?
Have mercy on Kuwait, its society and economy. Kindly amend obsolete laws to concur with subjective programs and development themes. Unfortunately, the consecutive governments supported these laws in order to avoid interpellations.
These governments acceded when they were supposed to resist and defend Kuwait and its heritage. Worst of all, they resisted against catering for people’s needs until we reached this situation – people leave during holidays as if running from a certain plague.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times