My cousin, who’s been living & working in Kuwait for the past 8-9 years, was in town for a visit. As we met at my residence on Sunday afternoon we talked about a bunch of stuff including his experiences in Kuwait. The Arab country suddenly woke up and realized that their land is getting too populated by foreigners. A nation of 2.8 million, only 45% of them are Kuwaiti! Just 45% while 35% are other Arabs (mostly Egyptian), 9% are from South & East Asia (mostly India and in particular from Kerala), while there is a 7% of Iranians and 4.8 are Caucasians from either Europe or the US. They want to change this and thus want to get some foreigners out. They are not going to trouble the Americans or Europeans so that leaves either the large number of Egyptians or Indians. Egyptians are Africans but still Muslim and so who does that leave? You guess it! The situation is even more dire in Saudi Arabia because well, it’s the Saudis, and some of it has been in the media spotlight here. As a former Kuwaiti resident of 11 years and heck I was born there, I am appalled at the nation.
So my cousin was filling me in about the subtle (ok not so subtle) ways that the Kuwait authorities are trying to make Indians leave willingly as they don’t want to force them out. So they do it by having separate laws for the forigners, especially Indians. You are now not allowed to help anyone even your friend or family by driving them to the airport or other places. The cops will stop you and accuse you of running an illegal taxi service. Unless ofcourse you can prove that they person or persons in the car with you are related to you. Hence people are carrying photos of their wedding and marriage licenses with them! I am not kidding; my cousin has his wife carry both when she takes the car out with her son, as well. People dropping their friends or colleagues are stopped, accused of running an illegal tax service and fined and maybe the car is towed away. Then there is random checking but only if you look like an Indian or atleast non-Arab. And heaven forbid if you have an accident in Kuwait now; if you hit a Kuwaiti’s car even if they are at fault, who knows what will happen. They are also restricting people in jobs like drivers, maids etc to only work for the initial company that hired them and are forbidding them to find other work. If caught, it’s instant deportation!
He was telling me, among other things about his experiences in Saudi where he has to go every 3 months for 2 weeks at a time for work. Religious police are everywhere and it’s a crazy country but then most us knew that. The religious police will go out in the street and stop people in their cars during mosque prayer calls, making them pray. If you say you are not a Muslim, it doesn’t matter. You still have to stop everything and wait until the prayer is over. The same goes for when you are eating out in a restaurant. Although it sounds hilarious and we were both laughing our asses off! He told me stories of restaurant staff ushering out people in mid meals when prayer calls are heard. Just get out cause we have to pray and so do you! Also single men or men without women in their group, having a different entrance from families, ladies & children to the same restaurant and different seating. If you are a man alone and you go to where the families & women are, you are thrown out!
What a country!