Monday, July 19, 2004


from this philly inquirer article (is this a real publication?)

Of 2.2 million people living in the country, only about 900,000 are Kuwaiti citizens, and of these, fewer than 130,000 males are eligible to vote. Most citizens have a well-paying government job - more than 90 percent of Kuwaitis work in the public sector. When they marry, couples receive a $13,000 gift from the government, plus a $230,000 no-interest loan to buy or build a house. Higher education, medical care and even electricity are free. The government will pay tuition, housing, and "pocket money" for Kuwaitis who want to study abroad.

It's no surprise, then, that Kuwaitis live in big houses staffed by foreign servants, drive expensive foreign cars, and while away hours in shopping malls.
"Our education system has a problem: It's not graduating quality people," said Rola Dashti, an independent economic consultant in Kuwait City. "So you have youth with energy and expectations, and they do not have a career. They go to a government office from 8 to 2 and don't do anything. You're building frustration that can lead to instability."

Kuwait graduates aren't qualified for high-level private-sector jobs, she said, so they are relegated to make-work government posts - a recipe for low self-esteem.
"I don't think women should vote - we're too emotional," said Nouf al-Bannau, 26, an American-educated dentist who was sipping coffee in a shopping mall the other day, not wearing a head scarf.

"I can't believe it," exclaimed her friend Sharifah al-Falah, also 26 and American-educated. "You see - this is what's holding us back... . Of course we should have this right, and hopefully it will happen soon."


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