Just when you think you have heard or seen it all in Kuwait, there will always be something weird and absurd that will blow your mind. Where shall I start? Let me start talking about an incident that happened to me at the police station. I’m sure that everybody (expats or locals) have had at least one experience at the police station or with the police in general for whatever reason. For my bad luck – I lost my wallet. As if that is not enough, I have my civil ID, driving license, bank cards, transactions information card, press ID card and some money inside the wallet all missing.
This happened on a Thursday, so the normal thing to do is to report the incident to the police. That is what I did. I went around 3pm immediately after I lost the wallet. When I explained my situation to the police officer, he asked me: “Why didn’t you come to report before 3pm (during our working hours) – we are closed now.” And he asked me to come on Sunday!
I asked the police officer, how shall I drive without my driving license – at least give me an official paper that shows that I have reported the incident (God forbid) if anyone uses it for their own interests. He said there is nothing he could do and insisted that I should come on Sunday. Please correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t the police force supposed to be on duty 24/7?
Funny enough, I think this just a tip for criminals – if you want to steal or commit crime, Thursday is just your day, because ‘Kuwait police stations have limited working hours on Thursdays.’ Another thing I find insane and inhuman is the morning and afternoon schedule in the hospitals. According to the new rule, Kuwait bars expats from going to public hospitals in morning hours. So my question is, if a poor expat is extremely sick and needs to go to a public hospital in the morning should he or she wait till the evening? Or rather, do sicknesses have timings or schedules too? This is absolutely ridiculous.
It reminds me of the post-slavery era in the US, when they used to write on buses, restaurants and hospitals, “No Colored People Allowed”. I have heard a lot of Kuwaitis defending this law – saying, ‘why should we wait for days in order to get an appointment in our own country due to the large number of expat patients? Well my answer is – an oil-rich country like Kuwait should have enough hospitals and qualified personnel for just its 3.5-million population – or even less.
Where are all the petro-dollars? Why is the system flawed? If we are able to answer these questions, we will be able to know why these laws are enacted. If Kuwaitis really want an expat-free hospital, I think it will be wise also to hire ‘only Kuwaitis’ to work as doctors, nurses, lab technicians, cleaners, mortuary attendants, drivers etc in the same hospital. More so, similar restrictions are in place at the other government agencies such as the traffic department, which handles applications from Kuwaitis only in the morning and expats during the evening.
The last but not the least is – the traffic law. Do you know that Kuwait has adopted a policy to deport expatriates for committing at least three ‘grave traffic violations that endanger lives.’ According to traffic authorities, this law is necessary to help instill discipline in expat drivers, address the chaotic road situations and ensure full compliance with the driving rules and regulations. I respect the law in all its terms, but only if it’s implemented fairly on both locals and expats. But where is the fairness when you deport an expat for violating these laws, and do not take an equally extreme measure against Kuwaiti violators? I think laws are supposed to protect and unite individuals irrespective of their nationalities or gender. When you break the law you should be punished equally. Laws are supposed to unify – not to divide.
By Sahar Moussa