The World Celebrates as Kuwait turns 62

Ten years before Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan bequeathed the world with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), there was already a new nation in the Gulf, the State of Kuwait.

Map of Kuwait from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

And it was this nation that paved the way for the UAE and other Gulf nations to use their independence to create immense wealth and freedoms for their citizens and the expatriate communities that have come to live on the Arabian Peninsula.

The UAE’s, Qatar’s, and Bahrain’s story is perhaps one of emulation of Kuwait.

Modern Kuwait began in a similar fashion to the other Gulf States.

Having been a battleground for influence by various colonial powers from the Ottomans to the Portuguese and to the British, Kuwait, like the other Gulf States, quickly fell into protectorate status of the British Empire in 1899.

Before oil was found, Kuwait was a merchant capital for long distance ship building and pearling, a very similar culture to that of the pre-oil Gulf.

And similar to the UAE, Kuwait became known as a diverse and free society, welcoming to the outside world.

Arabs, Persians, Africans, Jews and Armenians would call this protectorate home, as Kuwait quickly became a center of religious tolerance in the region.

Oil would be found in Kuwait on 22 February 1938, twenty years before the first commercial discovery in the then Trucial States (UAE), one year before the discovery of oil in Qatar, and actually six years after the discovery of oil in Bahrain.

Kuwait always appeared a decade or more ahead of the UAE and other Gulf States in the Twentieth Century, but thank God it did because it provided a blueprint for the UAE and the other states to follow.

Kuwait would soon use their oil wealth to create master plans and increase employment by diversifying their job sector to increase the wealth of all Kuwaitis.

Kuwait became very liberalized for the region, retaining their Islamic culture.

These cultural traits continued once Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah was able to lead his nation to independence in 1961. 

Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah signs documents of independence on 19 June 1961. The Indepence Day was moved to 25 February, the date in 1950 when Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah became the Sheikh of Kuwait, so that way people would have an easier time celebrating in the warm winter instead of the hot summer (from KUNA photos).

Following this, Kuwait entered their Golden Era. 

It became known for freedom of the press, women’s rights, and even parliamentary democracy.

Kuwait became a football powerhouse too, winning the 1980 AFC Asia Cup, qualifying for the 1982 FIFA World Cup, and coming home with a point in a difficult group with Czechoslovakia, France, and England.

A great story about the Kuwaiti Camel at the World Cup 1982 can be found on this link here.

Again, another accomplishment almost a decade before the UAE’s 1990 World Cup run, and many years before Qatar’s 2022 debut and 2019 AFC Asia Cup win. Bahrain is yet to accomplish either.

These Kuwaiti accomplishments also went into construction.

As Dubai and the rest of the Gulf started reaching the sky, Kuwait City also began as coincidentally, both Dubai and Kuwait City began with their first tall structures in 1979, and then the Gulf all started their building booms in the later 1990s and 2000s.

Night image of Kuwait City by Ibrahim Muhamed.

While the UAE and other nearby nations like Qatar and Bahrain continue to improve in their world standing, Kuwait continues to persist as a successful nation.

Kuwait has had to fight for their independence with neighboring states cementing their legacy as a warrior people, a nation to look toward in achieving freedom.

And on 25 February, we can look once again to Kuwait to celebrate their 62nd year of independence on Kuwait National Day.

The success of the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, and plenty of other nearby states can thank Kuwait for their intuition that spurred their nations to economic prominence. 

And Kuwait is not yet done breaking records. Kuwait 2035 is a plan to continue to improve the nation by creating a new port, new city, and the world’s tallest building! Kuwait, in line with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) will create the City of Silk or Madinat al-Hareer and in this city will sit the Burj Mubarak al-Kabir! The port will form a key part of the Belt and Road Intiative, cementing Kuwait’s place as a key ally of the two most powerful nations: the United States of America (USA) and the People’s Republic of China. The USA has also helped on building infrastructure that connects Kuwait City to the City of Silk across the Kuwait Bay, and continues to provide military security for the State of Kuwait. The new city will be a free trade zone, using different and more liberalizing laws friendly to business to make Kuwait another connector of East Asian and Middle Eastern trade.

Photo from Tandeem Group.

And in 2019, Kuwait opened the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah Causeway, the world’s fourth longest bridge, using Kuwaiti, French, South Korean, (PR) Chinese, and (US) American expertise to shorten the former two-hour drive to just 30 minutes for those wishing to navigate what will become Kuwait’s two main cities.

Photos are from The National.

So, we will continue to see Kuwaiti enginuity as the 21st Century continues, displaying that Kuwait, like the neighbors they became an example for, will continue to be an elite nation.

We may think of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Manama, and Doha, but keep thinking Kuwait City and now the City of Silk too.

To all Kuwaitis, have a blessed National Day.

Flag of Kuwait.

Published by CK 22

I like history, politics, foreign diplomacy, sports, and more. Basically, the most popular things, plus also geography.

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