Kuwait

69578511_481765132381023_5452195579062910976_o

Kuwait is an oil-rich Gulf State with the world’s highest-valued currency, the 7th richest country per capita globally and 2nd among GCC, and a major source of foreign aid. Prior to an invasion by and subsequent war with neighboring Iraq in 1999-92, the nation’s economy was even stronger: in the 1960s-70s, Kuwait was considered the richest in the region.

69740297_481767829047420_7553375476702511104_o

Kuwait has a rich traditional culture; like many in the region, early Kuwaiti society was ruled by sheikhs, while a large portion of the populace was nomadic or pastoral. The sheikhdom became a major trading port in the region, flourishing since the 8th century.

69512816_481770475713822_3481803551619940352_o

One of the primary maritime industries of Kuwait was pearl diving. Famous for centuries, the nation was also the first in the region to organise the practice as a profession complete with regulations and trade industry. The profession nearly died out with modernisation, but is being revived alongside an annual festival to celebrate this cultural heritage.69802703_481774749046728_7509810545382391808_o

Like all other Gulf States, Kuwait is Muslim-majority, though with a mix of 2/3 Sunni and 1/3 Shia. This is reflective of a population consisting of 70% foreign workers; the original Kuwaiti culture is far from intact. Human rights issues have also been raised regarding abuse of said laborers. Overall, Kuwait has long been viewed as the most liberal and open in the region, with an empowerment of women resulting in more women than men in the workforce.

69323188_481777362379800_3943548446161502208_o

One of the active projects in Kuwait, to empower those with intellectual disability, is Journey of Hope. Begun in 2012, the project has backing at the highest level of society and has also engaged globally to raise awareness. The nation has many such humanitarian initiatives.

69735309_481781492379387_8390245533591011328_o

Kuwaiti culture is most closely compared to that of Qatar, its openness and more liberal ways with Bahrain. Oman is a longtime trading partner, and the nation works closely with Egypt in matters of regional security. Entrepreneurship — especially Instagram business — is swiftly rising, even as the nation cracks down on cybercrime. Art, even the whimsical, can also be found, and the nation’s future looks bright.

~EWP