Kuwait: When Old Certainties Are Swept Away

The Middle East, April 1993 | Go to article overview

Kuwait: When Old Certainties Are Swept Away


Since the Iraqi invasion in 1990 there have been enormous changes in Kuwaiti society. Following its liberation, the country has made huge strides in the reconstruction of its infrastructure. At the same time, social, economic and political changes have also undeniably altered the make-up of the country. The big question is where these changes will lead.

FREQUENT VISITORS to Kuwait are apt to comment that little has changed in the Emirate as a result of the Iraqi invasion. In the mouths of Kuwait's detractors, the remark is often just snide and ill-informed criticism of the perceived flaws in Kuwaiti society: over-confidence, unwillingness to take on non-managerial jobs and an unresponsive bureaucracy. Coming from Kuwait's friends, the remark refers to the rapid re-building of Kuwait's infrastructure and is often accompanied by the comment that it is "business as usual" in Kuwait.

Both groups of commentators are seeing only a small part of the picture. The fall in Kuwait's population, the re-establishment of the National Assembly, the spending of most of the country's overseas reserves on war-related costs, the revelation of serious corruption in the management of its overseas assets and the exposure of Kuwait's total reliance on Western powers for its own security represent enormous changes in Kuwaiti society,

The question, therefore, is not whether Kuwait has changed, but where the changes seen so far will lead. Will Kuwait's ruling Al Sabah family become the first to lose power in the Gulf for more than 90 years or will the ambitions of some National Assembly members lead to a backlash and the imposition of more authoritarian rule? Or can the ruling family and its opponents find a modus vivendi and rebuild Kuwait as a smaller, more cautious version of its pre-invasion self? The outcome will have a profound effect on the rest of the Gulf, acting either as a spur to change or reaffirmation of the old order.

Recognition of the changes brought about by the invasion does not entail a corresponding denigration of the rapid and successful reconstruction of Kuwait's infrastructure after the liberation. Kuwait's achievements during the last two years have been huge and undeniable.

Despite systematic destruction of the oil fields and facilities, Kuwait was capable of pumping two million barrels a day on a sustainable basis by the end of February this year. (Pre-invasion capacity was put at 2.5m b/d.) Long term crude supply contracts have been re-established with Kuwait's traditional clients. A year after the liberation, two of Kuwait's three refineries were producing at about half their pre-invasion capacity.

Power and water services have been restored and many of the shopping centres and hotels vandalised during the occupation have been partly or almost wholly repaired (although the fall in population has left many shops unoccupied). The banks resumed near-normal customer services within weeks of the liberation.

It is a measure of Kuwait's success in restoring what was damaged that discussions among Kuwait's officials and consultants now focus on expanding and developing the pre-invasion infrastructure facilities and not simply restoration of the status quo ante.

Nevertheless, infrastructure is only one element in the make-up of any country, and an analysis of the rebuilding in Kuwait provides only one view of the complex way in which the country has moved on since its liberation.

Indeed it is ironic that whereas during the 1970s, the construction of huge factories, utilities and office buildings allowed all the Gulf states to claim that their societies were being transformed, when in fact the changing and political continuity which was the most astonishing feature of the oil boom years, now, the reconstruction of Kuwait's infrastructure is being used as a screen to cover the undeniable social, economic and political changes which the invasion has brought about.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Kuwait: When Old Certainties Are Swept Away
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.