IntroductionKuwait was granted formal independence in 1961. In 1977 Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah became the ruler of Kuwait, the Emir. The Emir is head of state and the Crown Prince holds the post of Prime Minister. The Emir appoints the Council of Ministers and the Constitution also allows for the election of a 50-members National Assembly.
Political SituationThe hereditary Amir rules Kuwait, and there is a government with ministers. The National Assembly has the legislative power, but it has been dissolved a number of times before by the Amir. The Amir may dissolve the National Assembly by a decree in which the reasons for dissolution shall be indicated. However, dissolution of the Assembly may not be repeated for the same reasons. In the event of dissolution, elections for the new Assembly shall be held within a period not exceeding two months from the date of dissolution. If elections are not held within the said period the dissolved Assembly shall be restored to its full constitutional authority and shall meet immediately as if the dissolution had not taken place.
Kuwait legal system was codified in 1960, and there are strong traces of influence from the Islamic Shari'a. However, Kuwait is the most liberal country in the Arabian Gulf region. Women political right is one of the most controversial issues at the political agenda in Kuwait. Despite the fact that the Kuwaiti women have ventured into various fields of economic, social, and academic activities, they have been appointed as an ambassador (Nabela Al-Mula, the first female in the Arabian Gulf region attained this pose), rector and dean of Kuwait University and assistant secretary of state. It is worth mentioning that Fayza AL-Khurafy, the dean of Kuwait University is consider as the first Arabic female holding this position among women in Arab world. I said, despite this progress, there is an absolute exclusion for women's force at the political life in Kuwait. The Kuwaiti constitution it self does not prevent women from political participation, an electoral law established by the fist parliament does. Thus, the Amir (as the absolute power at the state), the parliament, the women (as pressure group) have the power to change this law. A new decree, by the Amir, is adopted in Kuwait in May of 1999 intends to give women the right to vote and run for election as of 2003. The Amir left the case for the parliament. However, women remain as the most important element in this context. They have to prove them selves and to mobilize the society in their favor, in order to gain their full political position.
Main government personnel & offices
For administrative purposes, Kuwait is divided into five governorates, each with its own governor. They are:
MunicipalityThe Municipality is responsible for all public services. These include town and road-planning, town cleaning and refuse collection, food and restaurant inspection. It also issues building and structure licences. General enquiries, tel: (965) 244-9001
WelfareKuwait is a welfare state and heavily subsidizes many social needs. This sector of course was heavily damaged during the Iraqi occupation but strenuous efforts are underway to get the welfare system back to where it was on 1 August 1990. Following are details showing the state of Kuwait's Welfare Services prior to the invasion. Some of these were continued after the Gulf War but are under examination and re-evaluation by the government.
Electricity costs the consumer 2 fils a unit (1 KD = 1000 fils), although its real price is more than 15 times this amount. This continues to be the case. Gasoline prices are still 50% below market rates. Subsidized foods, available to everybody, are being held at 1972 prices. The most heavily subsidized product is rice at 80%.
Government housing is available to all married Kuwaitis who are employed and who do not own property. A nominal monthly rent is paid and until a house becomes available, they receive an income of KD 100 per month. The emphasis has been on providing housing for low-income applicants and Bedouins. Prior to the invasion, the Housing Authority had a budget in excess of KD 100m per annum.
Education received about KD 233m per year. There were 79 kindergartens, 178 primary schools, 145 secondary schools and 1 university. Most have reopened. All schooling is free for Kuwaitis and is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 14. As it is illegal to employ a child under the age of 15, most stay at school until this age. Most schools impose segregation of sexes after kindergarten. The government also offers for Kuwaitis scholarship abroad. There were also 11 institutes of post-secondary vocational training and a Maintenance Training Center, which ran courses on electronics, machine tools, diesel and petrol engines, air-conditioning etc. Schools also tackled the problem of illiteracy. There were 140 Adult Literacy Centers run by the government. There were also Institutes of Special Education catering to the needs of the physically and mentally challenged. Medical treatment was offered free to all residents of Kuwait. There were, however, some changes after liberation.