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Kuwait

Sovereign state in Western Asia

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Coordinates: 29°30′N 47°45′E / 29.500°N 47.750°E / 29.500; 47.750

State of Kuwait

دولة الكويت (Arabic)
Dawlat al-Kuwait
Anthem: an-Nashīd al-Waṭani
National Anthem
Location of Kuwait (green)
Capital
and largest city
Kuwait City
29°22′N 47°58′E / 29.367°N 47.967°E / 29.367; 47.967
Official languagesArabic
Ethnic groups
  • 40.42% Asian
  • 30.36% Kuwaiti
  • 27.29% Other Arabs
  • 1.02% African
  • 0.39% European
  • 0.52% Other
[1]
Religion
Demonym(s)Kuwaiti
GovernmentUnitary constitutional monarchy[2], with near-absolute political domination by the Sabah family
• Emir
Sabah Ahmad al-Sabah
Sabah Khalid al-Sabah
Marzouq Ali al-Ghanim
LegislatureNational Assembly
Establishment
• Independence from the Emirate of Al Hasa
1752
1913
• End of treaties with the United Kingdom
19 June 1961
Area
• Total
17,818 km2 (6,880 sq mi) (152nd)
• Water (%)
negligible
Population
• 2019 estimate
4,420,110 [1] (127th)
• 2005 census
2,213,403[3]
• Density
200.2/km2 (518.5/sq mi) (61st)
GDP (PPP)2020 estimate
• Total
$303 billion[4] (57th)
• Per capita
$67,891[4] (8th)
GDP (nominal)2018 estimate
• Total
$118.271 billion[4] (57th)
• Per capita
$28,199[4] (23rd)
HDI (2018)  0.808[5]
very high · 57th
CurrencyKuwaiti dinar (KWD)
Time zoneUTC+3 (AST)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy (CE)
Driving sideright
Calling code+965
ISO 3166 codeKW
Internet TLD.kw
  1. Nominal succession within the House of Sabah.
  2. Emirate

Kuwait (/kʊˈwt/ ( listen);[6][7] Arabic: الكويتal-Kuwait, Gulf Arabic pronunciation: [ɪl‿ɪkweːt] or [lɪkweːt]), officially the State of Kuwait (Arabic: دولة الكويت Dawlat al-Kuwait), is a country in Western Asia. Situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf, it borders Iraq to the north and Saudi Arabia to the south. As of 2016, Kuwait has a population of 4.5 million people: 1.3 million are Kuwaitis and 3.2 million are expatriates.[8] Expatriates account for approximately 70% of the population.[9]

Oil reserves were discovered in commercial quantities in 1938. In 1946, crude oil was exported for the first time.[10][11] From 1946 to 1982, the country underwent large-scale modernization. In the 1980s, Kuwait experienced a period of geopolitical instability and an economic crisis following the stock market crash. In 1990, Kuwait was invaded, and later annexed, by Saddam's Iraq. The Iraqi occupation of Kuwait came to an end in 1991 after military intervention by a military coalition led by the United States. Kuwait is a non-NATO ally of the United States.[12] Kuwait is also a major ally of ASEAN, while maintaining a very strong relationship with China.[13][14][15]

Kuwait is a constitutional sovereign state with a semi-democratic political system. Kuwait has a high-income economy backed by the world's sixth largest oil reserves. The Kuwaiti dinar is the highest valued currency in the world.[16] According to the World Bank, the country has the fourth highest per capita income. The Constitution was promulgated in 1962.[17][18][19] Kuwait is home to the largest opera house in the Middle East. The Kuwait National Cultural District is a member of the Global Cultural Districts Network.[20]

Kuwait Intro articles: 68

History

Early history

In 1613, the town of Kuwait was founded in modern-day Kuwait City. Administratively, it was a sheikhdom, ruled by local sheikhs.[21][22] In 1716, the Bani Utub settled in Kuwait, which at this time was inhabited by a few fishermen and primarily functioned as a fishing village.[23] In the eighteenth century, Kuwait prospered and rapidly became the principal commercial center for the transit of goods between India, Muscat, Baghdad and Arabia.[24][25] By the mid 1700s, Kuwait had already established itself as the major trading route from the Persian Gulf to Aleppo.[26]

During the Persian siege of Basra in 1775–79, Iraqi merchants took refuge in Kuwait and were partly instrumental in the expansion of Kuwait's boat-building and trading activities.[27] As a result, Kuwait's maritime commerce boomed,[27] as the Indian trade routes with Baghdad, Aleppo, Smyrna and Constantinople were diverted to Kuwait during this time.[26][28] The East India Company was diverted to Kuwait in 1792.[29] The East India Company secured the sea routes between Kuwait, India and the east coasts of Africa.[29] After the Persians withdrew from Basra in 1779, Kuwait continued to attract trade away from Basra.[30]

Kuwait was the center of boat building in the Persian Gulf region.[31][32] During the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, vessels made in Kuwait carried the bulk of trade between the ports of India, East Africa and the Red Sea.[33][34][35] Kuwaiti ships were renowned throughout the Indian Ocean. Regional geopolitical turbulence helped foster economic prosperity in Kuwait in the second half of the 18th century.[36] Perhaps the biggest catalyst for much of Kuwait becoming prosperous was due to Basra's instability in the late 18th century.[37] In the late 18th century, Kuwait partly functioned as a haven for Basra's merchants, who were fleeing Ottoman government persecution.[38] Kuwaitis developed a reputation as the best sailors in the Persian Gulf.[39][40]

British Protectorate (1899–1961)

In the 1890s, Kuwait was threatened by the Ottoman Empire. In a bid to address its security issues, the then ruler, Sheikh Mubarak Al Sabah signed an agreement with the British government in India, subsequently known as the Anglo-Kuwaiti Agreement of 1899 and became a British protectorate. This gave Britain exclusivity of access and trade with Kuwait, and excluded Iraq to the north from a port on the Persian Gulf. The Sheikhdom of Kuwait remained a British protectorate from 1899 (until 1961).[21][22]

Celebration at Seif Palace in 1944

Following the Kuwait–Najd War of 1919–20, Ibn Saud imposed a trade blockade against Kuwait from the years 1923 until 1937.[41] The goal of the Saudi economic and military attacks on Kuwait was to annex as much of Kuwait's territory as possible. At the Uqair conference in 1922, the boundaries of Kuwait and Najd were set; as a result of British interference, Kuwait had no representative at the Uqair conference. Ibn Saud persuaded Sir Percy Cox to give him two-thirds of Kuwait's territory. More than half of Kuwait was lost due to Uqair. After the Uqair conference, Kuwait was still subjected to a Saudi economic blockade and intermittent Saudi raiding.

The Great Depression harmed Kuwait's economy, starting in the late 1920s.[41] International trading was one of Kuwait's main sources of income before oil.[41] Kuwaiti merchants were mostly intermediary merchants.[41] As a result of the decline of European demand for goods from India and Africa, Kuwait's economy suffered. The decline in international trade resulted in an increase in gold smuggling by Kuwaiti ships to India.[41] Some Kuwaiti merchant families became rich from this smuggling.[42] Kuwait's pearl industry also collapsed as a result of the worldwide economic depression.[42] At its height, Kuwait's pearl industry had led the world's luxury market, regularly sending out between 750 and 800 ships to meet the European elite's desire for pearls.[42] During the economic depression, luxuries like pearls were in little demand.[42] The Japanese invention of cultured pearls also contributed to the collapse of Kuwait's pearl industry.[42]

Historian Hanna Batatu explains how the British threatened to take the Kurdish area and Mosul out of Iraq provided that King Faisal granted Britain control of the oil in the region. In 1938 the Kuwaiti Legislative Council[43] unanimously approved a request for Kuwait's reintegration with Iraq. A year later an armed uprising which had raised the integration banner as its objective was put down by the British.[44]

1962–1982: Golden Era

Postage stamp with portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, 1957

With the end of the world war, and increasing need for oil across the world, Kuwait experienced a period of prosperity driven by oil and its liberal atmosphere. The period of 1946-82 is often termed "the golden period of Kuwait" by western academics.[45][46][47] In popular discourse, the years between 1946 and 1982 are referred to as the "Golden Era".[45][46][47][48] However, Kuwaiti academics argue that this period was marked by benefits accruing only to the wealthier and connected ruling classes. It saw an increased presence of British, American and French citizens connected with the new oil industry, wealth transfer to people connected with the Emir, the creation of a new privileged upper class of educated Kuwaitis, bankers, and a vast majority of Kuwaitis living a life of penury. This resulted in a growing gulf between the wealthy minority and the majority of common citizens.[21] In 1950, a major public-work programme began to enable Kuwaitis to enjoy a modern standard of living. By 1952, the country became the largest oil exporter in the Persian Gulf region. This massive growth attracted many foreign workers, especially from Palestine, India, and Egypt – with the latter being particularly political within the context of the Arab Cold War.[49] In June 1961, Kuwait became independent with the end of the British protectorate and the Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah became Emir of Kuwait. Kuwait's national day, however, is celebrated on 25 February, the anniversary of the coronation of Sheikh Abdullah (it was originally celebrated on 19 June, the date of independence, but concerns over the summer heat caused the government to move it).[50] Under the terms of the newly drafted Constitution, Kuwait held its first parliamentary elections in 1963. Kuwait was the first of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf to establish a constitution and parliament.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Kuwait was considered by some as the most developed country in the region.[51][52][53] Kuwait was the pioneer in the Middle East in diversifying its earnings away from oil exports.[54] The Kuwait Investment Authority is the world's first sovereign wealth fund. From the 1970s onward, Kuwait scored highest of all Arab countries on the Human Development Index.[53] Kuwait University was established in 1966.[53] Kuwait's theatre industry was well known throughout the Arab world.[45][53] However, it also began to see the growth of plush gated properties, wherein the interiors resembled western villas and the streets were filled with roads marked with potholes.[21]

In the 1960s and 1970s, Kuwait's press was described as one of the freest in the world.[55] Kuwait was the pioneer in the literary renaissance in the Arab region.[56] In 1958, Al-Arabi magazine was first published. The magazine went on to become the most popular magazine in the Arab world.[56] Many Arab writers moved to Kuwait because they enjoyed greater freedom of expression than elsewhere in the Arab world.[57][58] The Iraqi poet Ahmed Matar left Iraq in the 1970s to take refuge in the more liberal environment of Kuwait.

Kuwaiti society embraced liberal and Western attitudes throughout the 1960s and 1970s.[59] For example, most Kuwaiti women did not wear the hijab in the 1960s and 70s.[60][61]

1982 to present

In the early 1980s, Kuwait experienced a major economic crisis after the Souk Al-Manakh stock market crash and decrease in oil price.[63]

During the Iran–Iraq War, Kuwait supported Iraq. Throughout the 1980s, there were several terror attacks in Kuwait, including the 1983 Kuwait bombings, hijacking of several Kuwait Airways planes and the attempted assassination of Emir Jaber in 1985. Kuwait was a regional hub of science and technology in the 1960s and 1970s up until the early 1980s; the scientific research sector significantly suffered due to the terror attacks.[64]

After the Iran–Iraq War ended, Kuwait declined an Iraqi request to forgive its US$65 billion debt.[65] An economic rivalry between the two countries ensued after Kuwait increased its oil production by 40 percent.[66] Tensions between the two countries increased further in July 1990, after Iraq complained to OPEC claiming that Kuwait was stealing its oil from a field near the border by slant drilling of the Rumaila field.[66]

In August 1990, Iraqi forces invaded and annexed Kuwait. After a series of failed diplomatic negotiations, the United States led a coalition to remove the Iraqi forces from Kuwait, in what became known as the Gulf War. On 26 February 1991, the coalition succeeded in driving out the Iraqi forces. As they retreated, Iraqi forces carried out a scorched earth policy by setting oil wells on fire.[67] During the Iraqi occupation, more than 1,000 Kuwaiti civilians were killed. In addition, more than 600 Kuwaitis went missing during Iraq's occupation;[68] remains of approximately 375 were found in mass graves in Iraq.

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes the Amir of Kuwait Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to the White House, 2018

In March 2003, Kuwait became the springboard for the US-led invasion of Iraq. Upon the death of the Emir Jaber in January 2006, Saad Al-Sabah succeeded him but was removed nine days later by the Kuwaiti parliament due to his ailing health. Sabah Al-Sabah was sworn in as Emir.

From 2001 to 2009, Kuwait had the highest Human Development Index ranking in the Arab world.[69][70][71][72] In 2005, women won the right to vote and run in elections. In 2014 and 2015, Kuwait was ranked first among Arab countries in the Global Gender Gap Report.[73][74][75] Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City was inaugurated in mid 2015.[76][77]

The Amiri Diwan is currently developing the new Kuwait National Cultural District (KNCD), which comprises Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre, Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre, Al Shaheed Park, and Al Salam Palace.[78][79] With a capital cost of more than US$1 billion, the project is one of the largest cultural investments in the world.[78] In November 2016, the Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre opened.[62][80] It is the largest cultural centre in the Middle East.[81][82] The Kuwait National Cultural District is a member of the Global Cultural Districts Network.[20] In 2016 Kuwait commenced a new national development plan, Kuwait Vision 2035, including plans to diversify the economy and become less dependent on oil.[83]

Kuwait History articles: 72

Culture

Kuwaiti popular culture, in the form of theatre, radio, music, and television soap opera, flourishes and is even exported to neighboring states.[84][85] Within the Gulf Arab states, the culture of Kuwait is the closest to the culture of Bahrain and southern Iraq; this is evident in the close association between the two states in theatrical productions and soap operas.[86]

Society

Kuwaiti society is markedly more open than other Gulf Arab societies.[87] Kuwaiti citizens are ethnically diverse, consisting of both Arabs and Persians ('Ajam).[88] Kuwait stands out in the region as the most liberal in empowering women in the public sphere.[89][90][91] Kuwaiti women outnumber men in the workforce.[92] Kuwaiti political scientist Ghanim Alnajjar sees these qualities as a manifestation of Kuwaiti society as a whole, whereby in the Gulf Arab region it is "the least strict about traditions".[93]

Television and theatre

Abdulhussain Abdulredha, the most prominent Kuwaiti actor.

Kuwait's television drama industry tops other Gulf Arab drama industries and produces a minimum of fifteen serials annually.[94][95][96] Kuwait is the production centre of the Gulf television drama and comedy scene.[95] Most Gulf television drama and comedy productions are filmed in Kuwait.[95][97][98] Kuwaiti soap operas are the most-watched soap operas from the Gulf region.[94][99][100] Soap operas are most popular during the time of Ramadan, when families gather to break their fast.[101] Although usually performed in the Kuwaiti dialect, they have been shown with success as far away as Tunisia.[102] Kuwait is frequently dubbed the "Hollywood of the Gulf" due to the popularity of its television soap operas and theatre.[103]

Kuwait is known for its home-grown tradition of theatre.[104][105][106] Kuwait is the only country in the Gulf Arab region with a theatrical tradition.[104] The theatrical movement in Kuwait constitutes a major part of the country's cultural life.[107] Theatrical activities in Kuwait began in the 1920s when the first spoken dramas were released.[108] Theatre activities are still popular today.[107] Abdulhussain Abdulredha is the most prominent actor.

Kuwait is the main centre of scenographic and theatrical training in the Gulf region.[109][110] In 1973, the Higher Institute of Theatrical Arts was founded by the government to provide higher education in theatrical arts.[110] The institute has several divisions. Many actors have graduated from the institute, such as Souad Abdullah, Mohammed Khalifa, Mansour Al-Mansour, along with a number of prominent critics such as Ismail Fahd Ismail.

Theatre in Kuwait is subsidized by the government, previously by the Ministry of Social Affairs and now by the National Council for Culture, Arts, and Letters (NCCAL).[111] Every urban district has a public theatre.[112] The public theatre in Salmiya is named after Abdulhussain Abdulredha.

Arts

Kuwait has the oldest modern arts movement in the Arabian Peninsula.[113][114][115] Beginning in 1936, Kuwait was the first Gulf Arab country to grant scholarships in the arts.[113] The Kuwaiti artist Mojeb al-Dousari was the earliest recognized visual artist in the Gulf Arab region.[116] He is regarded as the founder of portrait art in the region.[117] The Sultan Gallery was the first professional Arab art gallery in the Gulf.[118][119]

Kuwait is home to more than 30 art galleries.[120][121] In recent years, Kuwait's contemporary art scene has boomed.[122][123][124] Khalifa Al-Qattan was the first artist to hold a solo exhibition in Kuwait. He founded a new art theory in the early 1960s known as "circulism".[125][126] Other notable Kuwaiti artists include Sami Mohammad, Thuraya Al-Baqsami and Suzan Bushnaq.

The government organizes various arts festivals, including the Al Qurain Cultural Festival and Formative Arts Festival.[127][128][129] The Kuwait International Biennial was inaugurated in 1967,[130] more than 20 Arab and foreign countries have participated in the biennial.[130] Prominent participants include Layla Al-Attar. In 2004, the Al Kharafi Biennial for Contemporary Arab Art was inaugurated.

Music

Kuwait is the birthplace of various popular musical genres, such as sawt.[131] Kuwaiti music has considerably influenced the music culture in other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.[132][131] Traditional Kuwaiti music is a reflection of the country's seafaring heritage,[133] which is known for genres such as fijiri.[134][135][136] Kuwait pioneered contemporary Khaliji music.[137][138][139] Kuwaitis were the first commercial recording artists in the Gulf region.[137][138][139] The first known Kuwaiti recordings were made between 1912 and 1915.[140]

The Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre contains the largest opera house in the Middle East.[141] Kuwait is home to various music festivals, including the International Music Festival hosted by the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters (NCCAL).[142][143] Kuwait has several academic institutions specializing in university-level music education.[144][145][146] The Higher Institute of Musical Arts was established by the government to provide bachelor's degrees in music.[144][145][146] In addition, the College of Basic Education offers bachelor's degrees in music education.[144][145][146] The Institute of Musical Studies offers degrees equivalent to secondary school.[144][146][145]

Literature

Kuwait has, in recent years, produced several prominent contemporary writers such as Ismail Fahd Ismail, author of over twenty novels and numerous short story collections.[147] There is also evidence that Kuwaiti literature has long been interactive with English and French literature.[148]

Museums

The new Kuwait National Cultural District (KNCD) consists of various cultural venues including Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre, Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre, Al Shaheed Park, and Al Salam Palace.[78][79] With a capital cost of more than US$1 billion, it is one of the largest cultural districts in the world.[78] The Abdullah Salem Cultural Centre is the largest museum complex in the Middle East.[149][150] The Kuwait National Cultural District is a member of the Global Cultural Districts Network.[20]

Several Kuwaiti museums are devoted to Islamic art, most notably the Tareq Rajab Museums and Dar al Athar al Islamiyyah cultural centres.[151][152] The Dar al Athar al Islamiyyah cultural centres include education wings, conservation labs, and research libraries.[153][154][155] There are several art libraries in Kuwait.[156][155][157] Khalifa Al-Qattan's Mirror House is the most popular art museum in Kuwait.[158] Many museums in Kuwait are private enterprises.[159][151] In contrast to the top-down approach in other Gulf states, museum development in Kuwait reflects a greater sense of civic identity and demonstrates the strength of civil society in Kuwait, which has produced many independent cultural enterprises.[160][151][159]

Sadu House is among Kuwait's most important cultural institutions. Bait Al-Othman is the largest museum specializing in Kuwait's history. The Scientific Center is one of the largest science museums in the Middle East. The Museum of Modern Art showcases the history of modern art in Kuwait and the region.[161] The National Museum, established in 1983, has been described as "underused and overlooked".[162]

Sport

Football is the most popular sport in Kuwait. The Kuwait Football Association (KFA) is the governing body of football in Kuwait. The KFA organises the men's, women's, and futsal national teams. The Kuwaiti Premier League is the top league of Kuwaiti football, featuring eighteen teams. The Kuwait national football team have been the champions of the 1980 AFC Asian Cup, runners-up of the 1976 AFC Asian Cup, and have taken third place of the 1984 AFC Asian Cup. Kuwait has also been to one FIFA World Cup, in 1982; they drew 1–1 with Czechoslovakia before losing to France and England, failing to advance from the first round. Kuwait is home to many football clubs including Al-Arabi, Al-Fahaheel, Al-Jahra, Al-Kuwait, Al-Naser, Al-Salmiya, Al-Shabab, Al Qadsia, Al-Yarmouk, Kazma, Khaitan, Sulaibikhat, Sahel, and Tadamon. The biggest football rivalry in Kuwait is between Al-Arabi and Al Qadsia.

Basketball is one of the country's most popular sports. The Kuwait national basketball team is governed by the Kuwait Basketball Association (KBA). Kuwait made its international debut in 1959. The national team has been to the FIBA Asian Championship in basketball eleven times. The Kuwaiti Division I Basketball League is the highest professional basketball league in Kuwait. Cricket in Kuwait is governed by the Kuwait Cricket Association. Other growing sports include rugby union. Handball is widely considered to be the national icon of Kuwait, although football is more popular among the overall population.

Ice hockey in Kuwait is governed by the Kuwait Ice Hockey Association. Kuwait first joined the International Ice Hockey Federation in 1985, but was expelled in 1992 due to a lack of ice hockey activity.[163] Kuwait was re-admitted into the IIHF in May 2009.[164] In 2015, Kuwait won the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia.[165][166]

Kuwait Culture articles: 90

Media

The 372 m tall Kuwait Telecommunications Tower (leftmost) is the main communication tower of Kuwait.

Kuwait's media is annually classified as "partly free" in the Freedom of Press survey by Freedom House.[167] Since 2005,[168] Kuwait has frequently earned the highest ranking of all Arab countries in the annual Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders.[169][170][171][172][173][174][175][176][177] In 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2014, Kuwait surpassed Israel as the country with the greatest press freedom in the Middle East.[169][170][171][172][176] Kuwait is also frequently ranked as the Arab country with the greatest press freedom in Freedom House's annual Freedom of Press survey.[178][179][180][181][182][183][184]

Kuwait produces more newspapers and magazines per capita than its neighbors.[185][186] There are limits to Kuwait's press freedom; while criticism of the government and ruling family members is permitted, Kuwait's constitution criminalizes criticism of the Emir.

The state-owned Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) is the largest media house in the country. The Ministry of Information regulates the media industry in Kuwait.

Kuwait has 15 satellite television channels, of which four are controlled by the Ministry of Information. State-owned Kuwait Television (KTV) offered first colored broadcast in 1974 and operates five television channels. Government-funded Radio Kuwait also offers daily informative programming in several foreign languages including Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, and English on the AM and SW.

Kuwait Media articles: 10