The standard of living in Kuwait is high and the country has a well-developed welfare system, including pensions, free healthcare and education. However, these social benefits are largely reserved for the country’s own citizens. However, with the ever-increasing standard of living of the Kuwaiti people has followed a series of well-being illnesses, which have caused the state’s health care costs to skyrocket. Migrant workers and stateless persons are not covered by the same social protection network but are entitled to subsidized health care.
The Kuwaiti community is traditionally a tribal culture. The tribes are in turn divided into clans. Traditional decision-making in the form of draft laws still exists, sometimes as a complement to the state electoral system – which does not encourage it. In 2008, for example, it was reported that authorities had attacked members of the al-Awazim tribe (the largest in Kuwait) who had conducted internal “primary elections” ahead of the general elections that year.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in Kuwait, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
Despite the high standard of living and social welfare, the differences between the country’s elite and the rest of the population are large. Most affluent are the ruling Sabah family and the old merchant class that came to the area in the 18th century from the interior of the Arabian Peninsula.
The position of women has improved somewhat in recent years – among other things, they have the right to vote and stand in elections and they have gained access to more professions; women may now, for example, become police officers and serve in the military. But in many respects women are still discriminated against. For example, a woman’s testimony in court does not weigh as heavily as a man’s, and the right to citizenship is inherited only through the father. Only in the autumn of 2009 did the Constitutional Court abolish the rule that a woman must have the permission of a male relative in order to obtain a passport. Abortion is illegal and severely punished, but contraceptives are available at pharmacies.
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Infant Mortality: 7 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected: 0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 100.0 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 100.0 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 4.0 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 1,068 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament: 3 percent (2018)
Law strengthens employees in households
A new law improves the conditions for domestic employees, often women from other countries. The law imposes restrictions on working hours and the right to certain leave.
Many dead in suicide
Kuwait is experiencing the country’s first suicide attack against a Shiite mosque when an IS supporter blasts himself and takes 27 people to death. Over 200 people are injured. The deed that takes place in the capital shocks the Kuwaiti, who in recent years have been spared the terrorist act while unrest has spread in the region. The authorities explain that there is now a “total confrontation” against terrorism. In September, seven people were sentenced to death for involvement in the act, five of whom were absent. In December, the two prisoners receive a sentence of 15 years in prison. In the original sentence, another eight are sentenced to prison for between 2 and 15 years, while 14 people are released.
Criminal investigation against top politicians is closed
Prosecutors close the criminal investigation against a former prime minister and a former president. A video tape published by a high ranking member of the ruling family (see April 2014) was said to show how they both should have discussed plans for a coup, cooperation with foreign intelligence agents, money laundering and embezzlement of public funds. Prosecutors say analysis of the tape showed that it was heavily edited and not capable of proof.
Stricter penalty for network activist
An appeals court tightens the punishment for a network activist who was sentenced in October 2014 to four years in prison; he is now given six years in prison. No reason is stated.
Major investments despite reduced revenues
Despite reduced revenues from oil exports, the government presents a five-year plan with investments of $ 116 billion. The plan will strengthen Kuwait in the country’s quest to become a hub for commodity trading and financial services. The investments include the construction of a metro, a railway and a number of projects connected to the oil sector, including the construction of an oil refinery. The idea is also to expand the role of the private sector and that more Kuwaiti people will be employed by private companies. The plan is voted on by an overwhelming majority but critical MPs believe it is unrealistic and points out that previous five-year plans have not been fulfilled. Money to finance the plan should be taken out of the state’s large cash reserves.
Newspaper is denied permission
One of the country’s leading newspapers, al-Watan, gets its publishing license revoked. The authorities point out that the magazine does not have enough capital to comply with the rules required to hold a publishing license. The newspaper which previously supported the emir has in recent years conducted a more critical journalism. al-Watan intends to appeal the decision.
Opposition to government critics
The campaign against opposition speeches continues. An activist is sentenced by the Supreme Court to 20 months in prison for insulting the emir via Twitter. A former MP is arrested for critically tweeting about the emir and Egypt’s leader Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi when he visited Kuwait early this month, and a former minister is arrested for writing an article on alleged corruption within the government.