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Friday, October 22, 2021

‘The current welfare state that Kuwaitis are used to is unsustainable’

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Sheikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah

Ra’ed Qutena/Flickr

Sheikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah, Prime Minister of Kuwait, speaking ahead of the opening of Parliament.

Al Sabah’s remarks, which included a plea to nationals to reduce their dependence on the government in the coming years, have struck a chord across the Gulf, where grants, loans and subsidies for education, healthcare and housing, among other services, are commonplace.

Whereas GCC nations previously avoided Arab Spring-like unrest in the past few years by upping salaries and offering other financial incentives, the fallout of such spending is proving costly for oil-rich Kuwait.

According to Reuters, the nation could see a budget deficit as early as 2021 – a possibility that  “threatens national and social security and the stability of the country.”

In Qatar, whose natural gas reserves are still bringing in billions of dollars a year, government leaders are already looking forward to the day that wealth dips. But promoting the idea of a knowledge economy and making headway in terms of Qatarization has been difficult.

Currently, less than 30 percent of Qatari men, for whom lucrative government jobs become available after high school, pursue higher education opportunities. Local women fare better in terms of education, but are still not entering the workforce in proportionate numbers.

Only time will tell whether Qatar and other resource-rich nations follow Kuwait’s example, or treat the country’s woes as a cautionary tale.

Thoughts?

42 COMMENTS

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Susan
Susan
7 years ago

“Currently, less than 30 percent of Qatari men, for whom lucrative government jobs become available after high school, pursue higher education opportunities. Local women fare better in terms of education…”

Wow. This is a frightening statistic. I’d hate to be a Qatari woman — college-educated and nothing but a bunch of uneducated shmos to consider as potential husband-material. Yikes! It’s enough to make one want to switch teams…

Shane West
Shane West
7 years ago
Reply to  Susan

Hence the rise in divorce

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  Susan

There’re some interesting studies out there about the knock on impact this has had, with Qatari men taking in Yemeni brides and what not. If I recall correctly, the highly educated Qatari women were less desirable as spouses to the men than then the less educated Yemenis and others. I’d assume that some Qatari women feel the same way about the underachieving Qatari men.

If we assume that women continue to the pattern of marrying ‘up’, it seems that that will become more and more difficult as time goes by I would think.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
7 years ago

id rather have an educated working woman as a wife than one whos gona stay at home all day. qatari men are marrying yemeni,syrian,etc because of the insane amount of money qatari women ask to spend on wedding,gifts,expenses,dawri,etc.

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago

Oh, I’m with you, speaking just for myself, but many people don’t think us.

Lucielle Burger
Lucielle Burger
7 years ago

Its sad really Mohammed… a Qatari friend of mine who is a Loans officer in a bank told me about one of the bank’s clients whose wedding cost HIM over QR1 Million – he is apparently now fighting off jail time due to the fact that he cannot afford to pay it back:-(

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
7 years ago

Sadly we hear this story way to many times.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Susan

I take it where you’re from women only date / marry men of the same or higher level of education? Interesting!

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Statistically speaking this is true in the West. In fact, most people in the West who go to university meet their future spouses there or in the workplace afterwards.

Susan
Susan
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Not ONLY, but yes, in general it’s been my experience that relationships are most successful when people find partners who are more-or-less their equals, and that includes educationally/intellectually. That said, there are certainly a lot of intelligent men out there who haven’t had a more formal education…but few women (myself included) enjoy feeling like we can run circles around our men in the brain department. If he can’t keep up, then it’s a real turn-off.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Susan

I think you missed my point; I also believe that a couple should be equal on some level (cultural, social, educational, intellectual, etc.) for the marriage to work out.

My point was that even in the West, women cannot always find men of the same education level when looking for potential life partners. Yet, one could find many examples where a man with only a high school diploma, and woman with a bachelor degree have made it work.

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

As I understand it, that is the norm in most places, hence the marrying ‘up’ phenomenon, whether it be in age, education, earning potential, or social status. No everyone clearly, but that has traditionally been the way.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  Susan

I’ve heard quite a few comments from locals about how this affects the marriage market–parents of males not wanting to marry their sons to better-educated women.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

On the other hand; because of the rising cost of living, women with higher education are able to get better paying jobs and earn more money. So, many men are actually looking for that.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

So you are saying plenty of Qatari men are looking to be “kept” men?

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

If I were the one to say that about Westerns, I’d be accused of being sexist 😉

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

I’m with Ivan. One can only hope.

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Actually i’m a Westerner, with the long term goal of being a kept man 😉

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  Kingpin

What is the male equivalent of a ‘lady who lunches’? A man with no plan? A male who likes to sail?

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago

A king among men 😉

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  Kingpin

Mmm, that’s okay, but not as snappy as I’d like.

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago

describes it pretty well though 😉

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  Kingpin

Ha, if you’re in Qatar and you’re a hetero male then you’re in the wrong place for that, given the male/female ratio and all. I hear that Boston is a target rich environment for the single straight guy.

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago

Actually i’m married, but my wife is doing her professional accountancy exams, so I still hold out some hope

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  Kingpin

Oooh, husband of a CPA. You lucky dog, there is hope for you to be a kept man. Give it a try for a year or two and let me know how it works. Sadly, my wife expects me to contribute on something approaching equality in our marriage. Pity poor me….

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

That’s a goal that I’ve long held. Ah, to be a kept man; I can only dream.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago

It’s no surprise; both Qatari and Canadian men are very domesticated breeds 😉

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Kinda like Golden Retrievers, but with less slobber.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago

I want to be on wife support.

Qatari
Qatari
7 years ago
Reply to  Susan

ironically this isnt true… one approach is when a Qatari male wants to get married he searches for a woman with high education because they think that if she didnt go to school she couldnt raise their future children… another is that some men want to earn extra money in the household so he asks the wife to get a job earning them a little extra income.
the only cases of these men are a very small percentage..

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Qatari

How can that be? Aren’t all Qataris so rich that they don’t need to work for a living? Doesn’t the government pay Qatari women to stay at home and raise the children? :p

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Qatari

I’d say the opposite. An educated woman is a threat.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago

People should keep in mind that Kuwait is a rather special case, even among the Gulf states; the government there had often chosen to pay the private loans of its citizens, something which the Qatari government have, thankfully, avoided doing.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

The Qatari government just gives unnaturally large pay raises so that people can pay the loans themselves. It’s the same result.

In the end, Qatar’s welfare state is sustainable so long as the money does not run out. It’s no different than any other country.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

What pay raises? There was only one pay raise that you could describe as unnaturally large: the 120% 60% one 3 years ago. The only other pay increase I know of was the one in 2004. You may not be aware of this but government employees at least had little to no pay increase from the 80s all the way to the end of the 90s early 2000s.

Kuwaitis, on the other hand, have over the years gotten both multiple pay raises and had their private loans paid by the government a number of times. And the cost of living there is cheaper than here too.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Still doesn’t alter my point: Qatar’s government passes out massive welfare benefits, too, albeit in different forms and perhaps not as much as in Kuwait. Such handouts are sustainable only so long as the money flows in, just as in any country.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

No they did that several year ago here.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago

Here’s a crazy idea; how about the Gulf governments let their people have some real say in how the oil & gas revenues are spent? Oh my, I just got a text saying there’s a new 50% pay increase for all nationals. Adios my hard working but never really appreciated expat friends. And if you don’t like you can just go home 😀

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

That’s a dangerous suggestion… don’t you know that the people in the government know what is best for you? If they asked for the help of the people then they might actually find out how much money is wasted by various government ministers on their pet schemes or sphioned off through their own companies…

Lucielle Burger
Lucielle Burger
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Someone said Zidane statue and Damien Hirst exhibition?

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago

Sheikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah has both hands in the government purse. I wonder if he will reduce his dependance on governments hand outs and stand on his own two feet? Lead by example and practise what you preach.

outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
7 years ago

On the one hand it is laudable that the government in Qatar redistributes its vast wealth down to its citizens- no one is poor, goes hungry, can’t afford health or education. The problem as I see it from the outside looking in is that so much easy money destroys the very thing Qatar desires- self sufficiency. The work ethic is poor, the lack of ambition in young men beyond the next car or holiday is astounding. I don’t know how this can be changed, beyond educating from the very young that work brings satisfaction and self worth, whereas idleness and lack of desire for betterment brings only frustration and lack of personal happiness. Without that drive, Qatar will never be able to survive without the expat worker. I hope I will be proved wrong.

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