Like the other Arab emirates of the Persian
Gulf, Kuwait has undergone a dramatic transformation
since the Second World War from a poor fish nation to a
rich oil producer. Kuwait became an independent state in
1961 after just over 60 years as a British protectorate
but was forced to live under pressure from neighboring
Iraq, which claimed historical right to the area. Iraq
invaded Kuwait in 1990 but was expelled by a US-led
military force the following year. Since then, Kuwait
has made close ties to the Western world and also
carried out some democratization with a people-elected
Brief profiles of Kuwait, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
The Emirate of Kuwait is located on the
Arabian Peninsula at the far end of the Persian Gulf and
borders Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Nine small islands belong
to Kuwait, of which Bubiyan is the largest and Faylaka
has the most inhabitants.
A multi-mile bridge, which is one of the world's
longest, has been built across the bay where the capital
is located to tie the city together with a planned free
Kuwait consists of flat steppe and sand desert. A
number of hills reach about 300 meters above sea level.
There is no surface water except at a few single oases.
Vegetation is extremely sparse and wildlife is limited
to reptiles and insects.
The area where Kuwait is located is one of the
world's poorest rainfall, but the humidity is high. The
scarce rainfall falls almost exclusively during November
to April, when it averages 100-150 millimeters of rain.
For its water supply, Kuwait is completely dependent on
During the summer days it can get upwards of 50
degrees hot in the shade, but the temperature difference
between day and night is large. Occasional winter nights
can be minus degrees. In the summer, the country is hit
by sand storms.
17 818 km2 (2018)
Swedish +2 hours
Adjacent country (s)
Iraq, Saudi Arabia
Capital with number of inhabitants
Kuwait City Approximately 2.4 Million with Suburbs
Other major cities
Jalib al-Shuyukh, al-Salmiyya, al-Farwaniyya
New government is appointed
Although many opposition members have requested the appointment of a new head
of government, given the election results, the emir has commissioned the prime
minister to re-form government. When presented, it appears that all five members
of the royal family that were part of the former have renewed confidence. The
Minister of the Interior and Defense will exchange seats with each other, while
the Minister of Foreign Affairs will remain in office.
The opposition is strongly advancing in the elections
The results of the election reflect, according to Kuwaiti media,
dissatisfaction of voters with the outgoing National Assembly: only 20 of the 50
members are re-elected while 22 who are candidates are voted out. The remaining
eight did not stand for re-election. The opposition wins almost half of the
seats. According to Kuwaiti media, the Muslim Brotherhood's branch of ICM
occupies four places plus some who go to close allied candidates. Ultra-Orthodox
Sunni Muslims, Salafists also take four places. The result is that the country
is once again at risk of a political crisis, as the opposition has largely gone
to elections on promises to halt a large part of the government's austerity
Mixed decisions on election boycotts
Several opposition groups that have participated in the boycott of Parliament
for four years now decide to take part. More than 30 Islamists and Liberal
candidates have registered for the re-election (see also May 2016).
But the People's Action Movement (PAM), led by the imprisoned Musallam
al-Barrak, decides to continue boycotting this election just like the previous
two. Kuwait's Democratic Forum also decides on boycotts.
"All subsidies will go away by 2020"
A report commissioned by the Ministry of Finance appears to reveal a plan for
all state subsidies to be gone in four years. In the 2014/2015 financial year,
the subsidies accounted for 26 percent of the state budget. However, the
Ministry of Finance denies that such a plan exists.
The President calls for new elections, since MPs have asked three times for
ministers to raise fuel prices, and for alleged violations of financial and
administrative rules. The next day, the emir dissolves Parliament and thus prays
for re-election. He cites "security challenges" as reasons and does not directly
mention the contradictions with parliamentarians regarding fuel prices. The
message is unexpected as the sitting parliament has been described as the most
cooperative to date.
TV station owners get citizenship back
A court orders the government to restore the owner of an opposition-friendly
TV station and his four children their citizenship, which they were deprived of
by a decree just over two years earlier (see July 2014).
Minus in the budget
9th of August
Due to low oil prices, the country was in deficit during the financial year
ending 31 March, the finance minister said. It is the first time since 1999 that
it has occurred. Revenue fell by 45 percent during the financial year.
Abolished subsidies result in sharply increased gasoline prices
The government announces that petrol will be between 41 and 83 percent more
expensive from September 1, depending on quality. This is the first time in
almost 20 years that gasoline prices have risen. Kuwait is the last of the GCC
countries which, due to low oil prices, are now abandoning subsidies, in whole
or in part.
Shia Muslim parliamentarian convicted
A Shiite member of parliament, Abdulhamid Dashti, is sentenced in his absence
to 14.5 years in prison for pronouncing abhorrence of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain,
and for endangering Kuwait's diplomatic relations with both countries. Dashti,
who has expressed strong support for the governments of Iraq and Syria, has been
abroad for four months.
Ultimatum for peace negotiators
Kuwait gives the parties to the peace talks about Yemen two weeks to reach a
settlement, otherwise they will have to leave the country. Negotiations have
been going on for three months without major progress as neither party backs
away from their demands. The Huthi rebels want a national unity government in
place before the second steps are taken, while the government believes the
rebels should first withdraw from areas they control, and surrender their
weapons, in accordance with a UN resolution.
Minimum wage for housework
Kuwait is the first country in the Arabian Peninsula to regulate the
conditions for the approximately 600,000 domestic workers who come mainly from
Asian countries. A minimum wage of approximately SEK 1,800 is introduced, as is
the right to one day off per week and 30 paid off days per year with salary (see
July 26, 2015).
Law excludes opposition representatives
According to a new law, anyone who has been convicted of insulting "God, the
Prophet or the Emir" must not stand for election. Thus, tens of members of the
opposition are disqualified from participating in elections - including Musallam
al-Barrak. Parliament votes by a large majority for the law.
Prison for insult
Three members of the Sabah royal family, including a close relative of the
emir, and four others are sentenced to between five and ten years in prison for
insulting the emir. Among the convicted are also the editor-in-chief of al-Watan
(see also January 2015).
Opposition group blows election boycott
The Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM), which has ties to the Muslim
Brotherhood, announces that the boycott that has been going on for four years is
over and that the group intends to take part in the elections in 2017. ICM is
the largest opposition group in the country.
Peace talks on Yemen begin
The deliberations that have come about through UN mediation are being held in
Kuwait City. The Yemeni government, Huthi rebels and forces that former Yemeni
President Saleh is closely involved.
Oil workers strike
A proposal for wage cuts will trigger a three-day strike. This leads to a
significant reduction in oil production and, even if the strike is interrupted
without the workers being offered anything, it is a reminder of how important
they are to the economy, something that can be used in future negotiations.
Tightening is announced
24th of March
The sharp fall in world oil prices causes the country's management to try to
reduce government spending. Previous attempts to reduce subsidies on fuel have
been halted after violent protests, but residents must prepare for degraded
benefits. The Minister of Finance has announced that a corporate tax of 10 per
cent should be introduced and several state companies to be sold, such as
airports, ports and part of the oil company KPC's facilities.
Meeting on the fight against IS
Top militiamen from 30 countries participating in the war against IS meet in
Kuwait, just two weeks after the big defense ministerial meeting in Brussels on
the fight against IS. Participants include the United States, Britain, France,
Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Shiites are convicted of terrorist offenses
Judgments fall on 26 Shiite men accused of belonging to a terrorist cell with
links to Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, and to have planned attacks in
Kuwait. Two of them are sentenced to death, one in their absence, while 20
receive between 5 and 25 years in prison. One is sentenced to fine and three are
released. The day after the judges' boycott, the Shi'ite members of Parliament
are holding a meeting in protest. The meeting held behind closed doors concerns
the ongoing regional conflict.
The ambassador withdrew from Iran
The government revokes its ambassador to Iran as a result of a heated
conflict in the region. The conflict has been triggered by Saudi Arabia
executing a prominent Shiite leader after which angry Iranians stormed the Saudi
embassy in Tehran. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Sudan have broken their relations
with Iran completely, while Kuwait is downgrading them.