The Origins and Structural Development of Kuwait
KUWAIT IS A TINY SHAIKHDOM situated on the western shore of the Arabian Gulf. Isolated on three sides by vast expanses of desert and on the fourth by the Arabian Gulf, Kuwait society in the pre-oil era was shaped by the counterpoint of the two dominant themes of its environment--the desert and the sea. The geography of the Middle East outlines broadly the interplay of social forces that shaped early Kuwait. The juxtaposition of and desert, sea coasts, and fertile river valleys delineates three distinct life styles: nomadic, maritime, and agricultural. While the influence of agriculture is indirect in Kuwait, the desert and the sea come together there to provide both the stage and plot of early Kuwaiti society. How each influenced its structure, and how each was modified by the other in a continuous interplay of essentially antagonistic patterns is the subject of this chapter.
The influence of the desert on early Kuwait society relates intimately to the great bedouin tribes of the Arabian desert. To these tribes Kuwait traces the origins of its founding fathers, and from the tribes Kuwait inherited and modified the structural foundations of the society.
Communal in character, the pure nomadic life of the Arabian tribes as exhibited in the heart of the desert was organized around pastoral wanderings as the basic means of subsistence within the harsh desert environment. There existed within Arabia's and ecological zones two distinct patterns of socioeconomic activity -- sheep herding and camel herding. The articulation of the two patterns took the sociopolitical form