Nine days of Yemen-Kuwaiti heart cleansing [Archives:2005/833/Last Page]

April 14 2005
J o u r n a l i s t s   v i s i t i n g   s t u d i o s   o f   K u w i a t   T V   S a t t e l i t e   C h a n n e l   4
J o u r n a l i s t s v i s i t i n g s t u d i o s o f K u w i a t T V S a t t e l i t e C h a n n e l 4
Mohammed bin Sallam
In the second half of March namely from 18-27 a Yemeni delegation visited Kuwait. The Kuwaiti Ministry of Information had invited a press team of 12 people from official, partisan and private newspapers.

The press team spent nine days and nights at the hospitality of their Kuwaiti brothers. They visited a number of establishments, governmental authorities, and various syndicates familiarizing themselves with the comprehensive development awakening in the brotherly State of Kuwait.

The Kuwaiti Ministry of Information was the first authority which the team visited. The team met several colleagues working at radio and TV stations as well as a number of the Ministry's officials of whom was Sheikh Mubarak Abdullah al-Sabbah, Deputy Ministry for Foreign Affairs Sector. The visiting pressmen had a discussion concerning how to maintain and improve the relationship between the two countries so as to serve them through different media means. This will better the situation, and disperse the clouds which loosened the bonds between Yemen and Kuwait since Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The next morning, the Yemeni visitors met a number of Kuwaiti intellectuals at the Kuwaiti Writers Union. They candidly reproached their Yemeni brothers for the negative stance taken by the Yemeni authorities since the invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. Yet they praised the distinctive public stance represented in the enraged marches which flowed into the streets of the city of Taiz on the following day of the invasion that opposed it. The Kuwaitis also appreciated the demonstrations led by Sana'a University students on the third day of invasion.

Abdullah Khalaf, President of the Kuwaiti Writers Union, said, ” There are Arab countries whose people, not rulers, stood by Kuwait against the invasion, among which was Yemen. However, there are Arab nationals who supported the invasion while their rulers backed Kuwait.”

The two-hour talk with the Kuwaiti writers was hot and frank. The Kuwaitis understood the Yemenis' stance which publicly demonstrated Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. They decided to transfer facts which were not seen by the majority of Kuwaitis who had been unfavorably affected by information from certain media outlets. Such media organizations “disfigured the image of Yemenis in the eyes of Kuwaitis.”

The Kuwaiti writers and intellectuals promised to bridge the gap between the political levels by more affinity and understanding on the part of the thinkers, writers and people. It is unreasonable that the leaders' mistakes remain stumbling blocks in the people's way towards mutual intimacy.

Dr. Khalifa, Vice President of the Union, said, ” There were some 400,000 Yemenis in Kuwait, and that number shrank to 6,000. That was because of the erroneous stance taken by the Yemeni government at the Security Council and the indirect support for Saddam Hussein. There were also the smear campaigns run not only by Kuwaiti newspapers but also some Arab and foreign media means whose countries benefited from the repatriation of Yemenis. That diminished the Yemeni workforce in Kuwait and Gulf countries.”

The brotherly Kuwaitis showed us some of the atrocities they suffered during the notorious invasion when we visited “Lest We Forget Museum” enshrined in the Kuwaiti House for National Works.

The Museum contains a big photo exhibition hall which denounced the invasion. There is also an open panorama where many pieces of arms lie left from the Iraqi invasion. There is also a drawn panorama. Kuwaiti artists drew a mural with a length of 22 meters to narrate the story of invasion, suffering, and liberation. The hall also features photos of the Kuwaiti woman recording her struggle. The Museum comprises other components including a cinema screening documentary films on the invasion, and the Kuwaiti Identity Hall which tells with recorded voice of the history of Kuwait's emergence since ancient times to undermine the claims of the ousted Iraqi regime that Kuwait is part of Iraq.

The talk about a country like Kuwait needs much time and effort to reflect all observations of a country that is growing rapidly in all directions.

As it happens all the time, Kuwaitis are speaking of the strong links the two countries had, if not for Yemen's official stance, which was negative, according to them.

At the Kuwaiti Writers Union, talk was very intense. Writer and novelist Laila al-Othman said “Kuwaitis are feeling as much pain caused by Yemenis and Palestinians, as the love they used to cherish for them.”

Yet, she affirmed that Yemen is one of the countries she visited but did not find the “Serve you right” statement as she had found in other Arab countries.

The Kuwaitis says that the Yemenis are so famous for integrity that some job announcers ask for Yemenis to fill the positions of chashier, accountant or financial officer.

Kuwaitis praise the manners of the Yemenis and their behaviors while the Yemenis who lives in Kuwait receives from the natives more refined treatment than others.

Undoubtedly, the Arab nationalist which was very fervent in Kuwait in pre-invasion time and subsided for a while after the invasion has returned to normal slowly infiltrating into the Kuwaiti political community. This we perceived during our trip: names of streets, some halls and university gates are still named after prominent Arab and Islamic figures.

In our quick visit to the premises of al-Qabas Weekly, Mr. Walid Abdul-Latif, Editor-in-Chief, reiterated his staunch support for preservation of inter-Arab relationships and pointed out the exceptionality of Kuwait's relations with Yemenis despite vicicceitude in recent years.

Concerning the newspaper, Mr. Walid said, ” Al-Qabas is the organ of all Arabs. With some four hundred staffers, and depends on its own resources. It does not get support from any authority or organization even the Kuwaiti government in order to protect its independence.”

I have so many things to say about my visit to Kuwait but there is a limited space. I hope I will continue writing about this interesting trip in future issues.