Klaus Bung: Kuwait History Quiz
Length: 12,000 words = 57,000 characters
E-mail: klaus.bung@tudo.co.uk
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Klaus Bung: Kuwait History Quiz
E-mail: klaus.bung@tudo.co.uk
Length: 12,000 words = 57,000 characters
Related essay: Klaus Bung: The 1990 Gulf War in Perspective.

 

Klaus Bung:

Kuwait History Quiz

Or: A simpleton's guide, or catechism, to the conflict between Iraq and Kuwait
355 Questions and Answers

Version: March 1991

 

Note: The figures for population, economics and some other information is as it was before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. They will be up-dated after a publisher has been found. Illustrations and maps are to be added in collaboration with the publisher.

Contents

1.   Introduction to Kuwait History Quiz

1.1 Why rehearse a Kuwait quiz?

1.2 How can you use this book?

2. Why Kuwait?

3.   Geography and climate

4.   Population

5.   Economy

6.   Politics and government

7.   History

7.1   Early history

7.2   Foundation of modern Kuwait

7.3 The Berlin-Baghdad Railway

7.4   Kuwait and Saudi-Arabia

8. Oil

9. Kuwait and Iraq

10.   Bibliography: Sources of information and further reading

1.     Introduction to Kuwait History Quiz

1.1     Why rehearse a Kuwait quiz?

If you want to argue, you have, at least, to know some facts.

Many people do not know much even about their own history.  In a survey conducted in Great Britain, adults and children were asked 12 simple questions about British history (Sunday Express, London, 17 March 91, p 12f).  If the test was easy, the results were appalling.  25% of the test persons could not name Winston Churchill as the Prime Minister who lead England during the War against Nazi Germany.  One woman did not know his name but gave a fair description instead: 'A great big bloke'.  Unfortunately the description also applied to the present German Chancellor Kohl and to General Norman Schwarzkopf.  Which Roman General invaded Britain with the lines 'I came, I saw, I conquered'?  One person thought it was Hitler.  Others suggested Brutus and Napoleon.  Only 50% had the correct answer: Julius Caesar.

If we know so little about the history of our own country, how much less do we know about the Arabs, the Muslims, their relations with the West and with each other!  We have just fought a risky war that seems only to concern other nations.  How can we argue about that with each other, or with people who live nearer to the area (e.g. Arabs, Turks) if we know nothing about them?

It is useful to know something about how the other half lives.  It is useful to know something about history on the one hand and present-day reality on the other.  It is useful to know something about a tiny little state, the Switzerland of the Middle East, which is considered important enough to go to war about - when there was no war about the Chinese annexation of Tibet (1950), and no war about the Soviet invasions of Hungary (1956), of Czechoslovakia (1968) and of Afghanistan (1979).

In this booklet I have brought together from easily accessible sources, some basic facts about Kuwait and its history.  They have largely been culled from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which everybody can read, free of charge, in a public library.  Perhaps that is what you should do.  However, they come from different articles, and it will take you some time to get together what belongs together in the context of the present crisis.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica facts have then been supplemented by information from other sources, partly to make them more complete or up-to-date, partly in order to help you to link them to facts which some of you might know (e.g. the points about Mozart and Luther, English and Greek literature etc).  These references and quotations are meant to aid your memory and imagination, to give you some historical perspective and to appeal to your emotions in a less simplistic or chauvinist way than media or politicians have done during the conflict. 

Moreover, simply reading the facts in the compressed form in which they are offered in an Encyclopaedia does not enable you to remember them or to use them in a conversation.  You will not necessarily become more knowledgeable and more articulate.  The questions and answer form enables you to rehearse the facts you consider important.  I have deliberately included questions which may be considered trivial (statistics, dates etc).  If you do not like them, omit them.  It is easier for you to cross out an item you do not want than to insert one that is missing.

It is up to you to draw your own inferences from the facts and look behind some of the unanswered questions, which are designed to make you think or read and ask questions. 

If you have an opinion and somebody challenges you with facts, or alleged facts, you cannot know whether he is knowledgeable or ignorant if you do not have the facts at your fingertips.

You cannot argue convincingly if all you can say is 'Wasn't there some sheikh some time ago who did such and such, ..., no not that one, the other, his nephew, no I mean his uncle, well you know what I mean, the great big bloke with the moustache'.  Much popular discussion about the Gulf War has been at this level.  As so often in history, the person with the louder voice or the more aggressive manner, i.e. the 'stronger' person or the bully, wins, even if he does not have a clue.

Since this war was partly about bullying, the discussion about it should not be dominated by bullies.  You therefore should prepare yourself.  This book does not pretend to go to any depth but it gives you the most primitive tools of discussion, bare facts and a few excursions to give you some perspective.

Perhaps it raises more questions than it answers.  That would be very desirable, not least to help you check your own euphoria.  Libraries and book shops can help you find the answers to the unanswered questions.  You may, for example, find it useful to look at a map of all the major states in the Middle East, especially those which were threatened or attacked during this Gulf War.  For each, look at its boundaries in 1918.  Then check if these boundaries have changed since then.  If they have changed (and that means especially 'expanded'), find out if any territories gained during that time were empty or if there were residents (as there were in Kuwait).  How long had these residents been living in their villages and towns?  Were they consulted when a new power took control?  How many of them are still in their former towns?  How many left?  Why exactly did they leave?  Where are they now?

Through incessant television and radio reporting, we had a vivid picture of this war.  It would be useful also to have a vivid picture of the past.  This little booklet cannot even begin to answer any of these questions.  But you will be a wiser and more compassionate person if you at least start asking these questions.

1.2     How can you use this book?

Some questions have been formulated to mislead you (until you see the answer).  We may ask for dates of something that never happened.  This has been done to increase the challenge to you and to make sure we do not give away the answer by the fact that we are asking a question about it.

1    Read the questions and answers once, to get some general information.  Then test yourself and see how much you can remember after one reading.

2    Try to learn those facts or quotations which you think are worth knowing.  Leave out those which you find useless.  Different people have different needs and interests.

3    Take a piece of cardboard and slide it down each page of the book.  Cover the answer to the first question.  Try to answer the question without cheating.  If you do not know the answer, guess first.  Test your present degree of knowledge.  In case of the figures (population, production, heights, areas, etc) guess and see if you get at least the right order of magnitude.  If you don't, be pleased since it proves that this book can teach you something.

Go through the book repeatedly, testing yourself on one question after another.  Notice how more and more questions and their answers become familiar to you.

In case of the names, write down your attempted answers and correct every letter you get wrong.  This is like learning foreign language vocabulary.

You may consider the quantities, the names and the dates trivial.  In a way they are.  But so is every brick of a beautiful cathedral.  No bricks, no cathedral.

Each pigment used in a painting is trivial.  Well put together they make a field of sunflowers.  In this Kuwait quiz, you buy the pigments, but you are the Van Gogh.

Remember, you sound much more convincing, to yourself and to others, if you can quote dates.  And without dates, you cannot determine what came before and what came after - and what was simultaneous.  It is the detail which makes a story credible and interesting.  Abstractions are not enough. 

Without facts no informed discussion is possible.  And facts, in themselves, are necessary. 

4    If you still go to school, you can use the questions and answers like a game, such as Trivial Pursuit.

Well, this is a non-trivial pursuit.  Quiz each other on the facts, incessantly.  That is a pleasant way of learning them.  Get yourself a video tape of Barbra Streisand's film 'Yentle'.  It shows the Polish theology students quizzing each other incessantly and thus acquiring knowledge and fortifying it against attack, confusion and forgetting.

Having tried the method with the subject of Kuwait, you may wish to apply it to other historical subjects.

5    If you are a businessman or contractor or worker about to go to Kuwait to help with the reconstruction, turn the questions into a family game.  Fire questions at each other during meals and see who scores most points. 

In a country and in a region whose history and achievements are so little known and so underrated in the West, and where Westerners are known for their ignorance, every scrap of knowledge, information and understanding that you display will be greatly appreciated and can help to win you personal friends.

If you want to do even better, learn 10, 20, 50 or 100 greetings, words and phrases in Arabic.  You can learn these also in the company, and with the help of, your family.  The effort that you put into learning these phrases will be seen as a sign of respect for the people among whom you work.  They will make your stay in Kuwait pleasant through their friendliness.  The rewards will be incomparably greater than the small effort required.

2.     Why Kuwait?

Q1:

Why is and was a tiny country like Kuwait so important? 

Give three reasons, in historical sequence.

A:

1    Before the arrival of air transport:

     Because of its strategic location, at the furthest end of an long waterway, providing access to the sea and linking long-distance routes.

2    At the beginning of this century:

     Because it played a critical role in the creation of a huge and important country, Saudi Arabia.

3    Today:

     Because of its oil.

(Accordingly, this Quiz will contain special sections concerned with (1) the Berlin-Baghdad-Kuwait railway  project, (2) the emergence of Saudi Arabia, (3) the discovery of oil in Kuwait.)

3.     Geography and climate

Q2:

What is the Arabic name of the State of Kuwait?

A:

Dawlat al-Kuwayt.


Q3:

Explain the meaning of the word 'Kuwait'.

A:

Arabic 'kut' means 'fort'.  'Kuwait' is the diminutive of 'kut' (as 'kitchenette' is the diminutive of 'kitchen') and means 'little fort'.


Q4:

Kuwait joins the sea.  Name its location (two names).

A:

It lies at the Persian Gulf (= Arabian Gulf).


Q5:

Why are there two names for this Gulf?

A:

Because on one side is Persia (Iran) and on the other Arabia (Saudi Arabia).


Q6:

Be more precise about the location.  (Wanted: two additional pieces of information)

A:

It lies at the (1) upper (2) northwestern corner of the Persian (Arabian) Gulf.


Q7:

The area of Kuwait (in square miles) is:

A:

6,880 square miles.


Q8:

The area of Kuwait (in square km) is:

A:

17,818 square km.


Q9:

Name the capital of the State of Kuwait.

A:

Kuwait City.


Q10:

What is the approximate distance (in miles) from the northern to the southern border of Kuwait?

A:

About 100 miles.


Q11:

What is the approximate distance (in km) from the northern to the southern border of Kuwait?

A:

About 160 km.


Q12:

What is the approximate distance (in miles) from the eastern to the western border of Kuwait?

A:

90 miles.


Q13:

What is the approximate distance (in km) from the eastern to the western border of Kuwait?

A:

140 km.


Q14:

Kuwait shares borders with two neighbours.  Which are the neighbours, and in which direction are their territories?

A:

1    Iraq on the west and north

2    Saudi Arabia on the south.


Q15:

What is on the eastern front of Kuwait?

A:

The Persian Gulf.


Q16:

How large was the population of Kuwait in 1988 (approximately)?

A:

2 million.


Q17:

Is Kuwait a mountainous country?

A:

It lies on a gently sloping plain.


Q18:

What is Kuwait's highest elevation in feet?

A:

951 feet.


Q19:

What is Kuwait's highest elevation in metres?

A:

290 metres.


Q20:

What is the name of Kuwait's highest point?

A:

Ash-Shaqaya.


Q21:

Where is ash-Shaqaya?

A:

Near the extreme western border between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.


Q22:

Just north of Kuwait City there is a bay, Kuwait Bay, which extends inland from the Gulf.  How many miles inland does it extend?

A:

30 miles.


Q23:

Just north of Kuwait City there is a bay, Kuwait Bay, which extends inland from the Gulf.  How many km inland does it extend?

A:

48 km.


Q24:

A geographical feature extends along the northwestern shore of Kuwait Bay.  What is it and what is its name?

A:

It is the Az-Zawr Escarpment.


Q25:

How high is the Az-Zawr Escarpment (in feet)?

A:

475 feet.


Q26:

How high is the Az-Zawr Escarpment (in metres)?

A:

145 metres.


Q27:

What is on the southern shore of Kuwait Bay (2 items)?

A:

1    A natural harbour

2    Kuwait City, the capital of Kuwait


Q28:

Is Kuwait very fertile?

A:

No, it is largely desert.


Q29:

What interrupts the large Kuwaiti desert (2 items)?

A:

1    An oasis

2    A few fertile patches


Q30:

What is the name of the oasis?

A:

The al-Jahrah Oasis.


Q31:

Where is the al-Jahrah Oasis?

A:

At the western end of Kuwait Bay.


Q32:

Where are the fertile patches?

A:

In the southeastern and coastal areas.


Q33:

What is the climate like?

A:

Semitropical.


Q34:

The contrast between summer and winter is great.  What are the average temperatures in summer?

A:

111° F (44° C).


Q35:

What is the highest summer temperature?

A:

130° F (54° C).


Q36:

What are the average temperatures in winter?

A:

61° F (16° C) in the coolest months.


Q37:

Is there any rain in summer?

A:

Virtually none.  Whatever rain there is falls in winter.


Q38:

What is the annual rainfall?

A:

1 to 7 inches (25 to 180 mm).


Q39:

Where does that rain go?

A:

It fills the desert basins with fresh water.


Q40:

What is another name for these desert basins (temporary lakes)?

A:

The playas.


Q41:

In which parts of Kuwait are the playas to be found?

A:

In the north, west, and centre of the country.


Q42:

Who depends on the rainwater in the playas?

A:

The nomads and their herd.


Q43:

Is Kuwait windy?

A:

Yes, there are frequent winds and dust storms.


Q44:

When do most of the dust storms occur?

A:

In June and July.


Q45:

How much agricultural soil is there?

A:

Virtually none.


Q46:

What are Kuwait's natural resources?

A:

Petroleum and natural-gas fields.


Q47:

Kuwait's estimated reserves of petroleum represent which percent of global reserves?

A:

Almost 13 %.


Q48:

Which country has the greatest petroleum reserves in the world?

A:

Saudi Arabia.


Q49:

Where does Kuwait rank in this respect?

A:

Immediately after Saudi Arabia?


Q50:

Kuwait's estimated reserves of natural gas represent which percent of global reserves?

A:

Almost 1 %.


4.     Population

Q51:

Kuwait's population belongs mostly to which race?

A:

It is is overwhelmingly Arab.


Q52:

Kuwait's population consists of native Kuwaitis and of foreigners.  What percentage of Kuwait's population consists of native Kuwaitis?

A:

Only 40% (= two fifths).


Q53:

Foreigners living in Kuwait consist of Arabs and non-Arabs.  Where do the non-Arabs come from?

Name the two most prominent non-Arab countries of origin.

A:

India and Pakistan.


Q54:

Who are the most important Arab foreigners in Kuwait?

A:

Palestinians.


Q55:

Are all Palestinians in Kuwait menial workers?

A:

No, many are teachers, journalists and administrators.


Q56:

Why are there so many Palestinians in Kuwait?

A:

Because they were expelled from their homeland.


Q57:

Describe the three stages of Palestinian immigration into Kuwait.

A:

1    A small trickle of Palestinians entered Kuwait in the 1930s.  At the same time an increasing number of Jewish immigrants were allowed into, or encouraged to come to, Palestine.

2    When, in 1948, the State of Israel was established in Palestine territory, a huge number of Palestinians were driven from their homeland and became refugees in other Arab countries.  Many of them came to Kuwait in search for a home and work.

3    During the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Israel occupied further Palestinian territory, causing a new flood of refugees to leave their country.  200,000 of them came to Kuwait.  After that immigration restrictions were imposed.


Q58:

Where did the loyalties of the Palestinians lie during the 1990/91 Kuwait conflict,
-    with Kuwait (which gave them a home and livelihood)
-    or with Iraq (which appeared to some of them capable

.    of hurting the enemy of their homeland (Israel)

.    or of putting pressure on Israel to give them part of their homeland back)?

A:

The Palestinians were in a tragic dilemma, with reason and emotions, gratitude and hope pointing in different directions.  (Reason: Could Iraq really be useful to them?  Emotion: Israel's enemy is my friend.  Gratitude to Kuwait for giving them refuge.  Hope for a return to their homeland.)

The international Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat expressed support for Saddam Hussein, and so did many Palestinians in the territories occupied by Israel.

The emotional post-war chaos in Kuwait may make it difficult to assess the behaviour of Palestinians in Kuwait objectively.  Unfortunately they are now under suspicion. 

They have doubly suffered: not only has their first home, Palestine, been devastated but also their second home, Kuwait.


Q59:

Are the Palestinians unique in the dilemma of finding it difficult to decide whom to support?

A:

No, this is the stuff which tragedies are made of.  For years, the Americans supported Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran.  They might not have liked either regime, but Saddam's seemed the lesser of two evils.  And if equally evil, the explanation might have been: 'He may be a thug, but he is our thug.'

Was it outrageous that the Americans supported Iraq?  Was it outrageous that some Palestinians supported Iraq?  Or was it, with the benefit of hindsight, merely a mistake.


Q60:

Apart from the Palestinians, list the other important Arab foreigners in Kuwait in alphabetical order.

A:

-    Egyptians

-    Iraqis

-    Lebanese

-    Syrians


Q61:

What percentage of the population of Kuwait consists of Arab foreigners?

A:

50%


Q62:

What is the main religion of Kuwait's population (natives and foreigners)?

A:

Islam.


Q63:

What percentage of Kuwait's inhabitants (natives and foreigners) adheres to Islam?

A:

More than 90 percent.


Q64:

What is the official language of Kuwait?

A:

Arabic.


Q65:

Name two other languages which are also widely spoken in Kuwait.

A:

Persian and English.


Q66:

The sexes are not well-balanced in Kuwait.  Are there more men or more women?

A:

There are significantly more men.


Q67:

Why do men outnumber women?

A:

Because there are so many male foreign workers.


Q68:

Where do most of the people live, in the city or in the country-side?

A:

In the city.


Q69:

Can you immigrate into Kuwait and, after a while, acquire Kuwaiti citizenship?

A:

No.


Q70:

If you are born in England, of whatever parents, you automatically acquire British Citizenship.  If you are born, in whatever country, of German parents, you are automatically entitled to German citizenship.

If you are born in Kuwait of non-Kuwaiti parents, are you entitled to Kuwaiti citizenship?

A:

No.


Q71:

Who can have Kuwaiti citizenship?  Name two categories of people.

A:

-    Native Kuwaitis

-    People who can prove Kuwaiti ancestry from before 1920


Q72:

Name a country in Europe which, like Kuwait, is very small, very prosperous and into which many people would like to immigrate, and which also, to protect its indigenous population from change, makes it very difficult for foreigners and their descendants to acquire its nationality.

A:

Switzerland


5.     Economy

Q73:

Is the Kuwaiti economy privately owned or government owned?

A:

The economy is mixed, i.e. it is partly government-owned and partly private enterprise. 


Q74:

How great is the gross national product (GNP) per capita compared with other countries in the world?

A:

It is one of the highest.


Q75:

What is the greater cause of population increase, births or immigration?

A:

Immigration.


Q76:

What is growing faster, the GNP or the population?

A:

The population.


Q77:

List three activities which are most important for the GNP.

A:

1    Crude petroleum production

2    Natural-gas production

3    Refining


Q78:

While other oil-producing countries used their oil revenue primarily to build up industries in their own country, Kuwait concentrated on investing its oil revenue in foreign countries and companies.

Compare the size of Kuwait's income from oil and from investments before Iraq's invasion.

A:

However large its income from oil, before the invasion, Kuwait received more income from investments than from oil. 

(In view of Iraq's systematic destruction of Kuwaiti property inside Kuwait, this was an unexpectedly fortunate situation, since, by its destruction, Iraq could deprive Kuwait of at most half its income.)


Q79:

How important is agriculture in Kuwait?

A:

It is a marginal economic activity and contributes little to the GNP. 


Q80:

There is little arable land in Kuwait.  How is it irrigated?

A:

-    From recycled wastewater

-    From brackish groundwater


Q81:

What is grown on Kuwait's arable land?

A:

-    Garden produce

-    Livestock feed


Q82:

The government operates an experimental farm.  Where is it?

A:

At Omariyah.


Q83:

What is being used in that farm?

A:

-    Plastic greenhouses

-    Hydroponic systems


Q84:

What are hydroponic systems?

A:

A method of cultivating plants by growing them in gravel, etc, through which water containing dissolved inorganic nutrient salts is pumped.


Q85:

What percentage of land is covered by pastures?

A:

Less than 8%.


Q86:

What sort of farm animals are kept?

A:

-    Sheep

-    Goats

-    Cattle


Q87:

What do fishermen in the Persian Gulf produce for the local market?

A:

Silver pomfret.


Q88:

What are pomfret?

A:

Pomfret are fish of the genus Stomateoides, which are common in the Indian and Pacific oceans.


Q89:

What are the two types of pomfret?

A:

Black pomfret and white pomfret.


Q90:

What is the name for white pomfret when they are young?

A:

Silver pomfret.


Q91:

What is the name for white pomfret when they are old?

A:

Grey pomfret.


Q92:

What is the origin of the name 'pomfret'?

A:

'Pomfret' comes from the Portuguese.


Q93:

Why do fish in the Persian Gulf have a Portuguese name?

A:

Because the Portuguese were the first Europeans in fairly modern times to establish settlements on the shores of the Persian Gulf.


Q94:

When did the Portuguese first come to the Persian Gulf?

A:

About 1600 A.D.


Q95:

What do fishermen in the Persian Gulf produce for export?

A:

Prawns and shrimp.


Q96:

Are these prawns and shrimp exported fresh?

A:

They are frozen.


Q97:

What percentage of GNP comes from manufacturing?

A:

8%.


Q98:

What percentage of the labour force is employed in manufacturing?

A:

8%.


Q99:

What are the main manufactured products?  List eight.

A:

1    Various petroleum products

2    Plastics

3    Cement

4    Ceramic and asbestos products

5    Metal pipes

6    Electric cables and dry-cell batteries

7    Furniture

8    Woolen blankets


Q100:

Name the two major industrial parks in Kuwait.

A:

-    Ash-Shu'aybah industrial park

-    Mina' Abdullah industrial park


Q101:

How is electricity produced?

A:

By thermal power plants.


Q102:

Describe the policy for Kuwait's economic development since the 1970s.

A:

Vertical integration of its oil industry by expanding its refining, shipping, and marketing capabilities.


Q103:

Certain industries are exclusively owned by the government.  Name them.

A:

-    All petroleum, natural-gas, and derivative industries

-    Electrical-generation plants

-    Desalination plants


Q104:

What kinds of companies are owned by the private sector?

A:

-    Building-materials companies

-    Construction companies

-    Trade companies

-    Finance companies


Q105:

Since the late 1970s the government has favoured the development of certain industries.  Define them.

A:

-    Petroleum- and natural-gas-related industries

-    Other low-pollution industries that require minimum labour


Q106:

Why are these industries favoured?

A:

Because the government wants to decrease the expatriate work force.


Q107:

Why does the Kuwaiti government want to decrease the expatriate work force?

A:

Because it accounts for about two-thirds of the country's total labour force.


Q108:

Kuwait has a generous social program for its citizens.  It has also spent much on developing its industries.

How great were the budgetary deficits required for financing these programmes?

A:

No budgetary deficits were necessary.  The program was financed from Kuwait's large petroleum revenues.


Q109:

Which percentage of jobs in Kuwait are in public administration, defence, and services sectors?

A:

Almost 50 percent.


Q110:

Which percentage of jobs in Kuwait are in construction?

A:

20 percent.


Q111:

When did Kuwait for the first time experience a budget deficit?

A:

In 1982-83.


Q112:

What was the reason for the budget deficit of 1982-83?

A:

Petroleum revenues declined.


Q113:

List the five major items of government expenditures.

A:

1    Wages and salaries

2    Construction and expropriations

3    Expenditures for goods and services

4    The reserve fund for future generations

5    Transport equipment


Q114:

What percentage of government expenditure is for wages and salaries?

A:

25%.


Q115:

What percentage of government expenditure is for construction and expropriations?

A:

25%.


Q116:

How many mud roads are there in Kuwait?

A:

Virtually all of Kuwait's roads are paved.


Q117:

Which are the main ports?  Name two which are situated on the mainland.

A:

-    Ash-Shu'waykh

-    Ash-Shu'aybah


Q118:

Name the main oil port.

A:

Mina' al-Ahmadi.


Q119:

Where is Mina' al-Ahmadi located?

A:

It is located offshore.


Q120:

What government regulations are there for shipping petroleum exports?

A:

All petroleum exports must be shipped on Kuwaiti tankers.


Q121:

What is conveyed in most of the pipelines?

A:

Crude petroleum.


Q122:

What are Kuwait's main exports?

A:

-    Crude petroleum

-    Natural gas

-    Refined-petroleum products


Q123:

To which countries does Kuwait sell its products?

A:

-    To Japan

-    To Italy

-    To the United States

-    To Germany


Q124:

What goods does Kuwait import?

A:

-    Machinery and transport equipment

-    Basic manufactures

-    Food

-    Live animals


Q125:

Where do these imports come from?

A:

-    From Japan

-    From the United States

-    From Germany

-    From the United Kingdom



6.     Politics and government

Q126:

What is Kuwait's form of government?

A:

Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy.


Q127:

Name a country in Europe which is also a constitutional monarchy?

A:

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


Q128:

Which family governs Kuwait?

A:

The Sabah family (Al Sabah).


Q129:

Is the Kuwaiti head of state a 'King'?

A:

He is called 'Emir'.


Q130:

Give the linguistic derivation of the word 'emir'.

A:

The original word is Arabic 'amir' = 'commander'.

It passed from Arabic into Spanish (around 1300 A.D.) and later from Spanish into French.

In the 17th century it passed from French into English.


Q131:

An English dictionary gives three related meanings for the word 'emir'. 

Quote them.

A:

-    An independent ruler or chieftain

-    A military commander or governor

-    A descendant of the Prophet Mohammed


Q132:

When did the British Government give full independence to Kuwait?

A:

In June 1961.


Q133:

When was Kuwait's present constitution adopted?

A:

In 1962.


Q134:

Who, according to the constitution, chooses the Emir?

A:

The ruling family.


Q135:

How does the Emir exercise his power?

A:

Through an appointed Prime Minister and Council of Ministers.


Q136:

Name the two chambers which constitute Kuwait's legislature.

A:

There is only one chamber, the National Assembly.


Q137:

The National Assembly has not always worked without trouble.  What was the result?

A:

The Emir reluctantly suspended the National Assembly and the Constitution on two occasions.


Q138:

When was the first time the National Assembly was dissolved?

A:

In 1976.


Q139:

When was the second time the National Assembly was dissolved?

A:

Ten years later, in 1986.


Q140:

What were the causes of the 1976 suspension of the constitution?

A:

The country had been divided into ten constituencies.  Each deputy represented a narrow range of interests peculiar to his electors and liable to be incompatible with those of other constituencies. 

It was therefore difficult for the Assembly to agree on any of the measures which the government thought necessary.

In brief, the Assembly was 'factional and disruptive'  (Mansfield, p 106 f; look there for more detailed information on the constitutional problems.)


Q141:

Which were the major interest groups in Kuwait?  Name four.

A:

1    The merchants

2    The new middle class

3    The beduins

4    The Shia (shiites)


Q142:

When the Emir dissolved the National Assembly in 1976, he promised to revise the constitution in the light of experience and to hold new elections within four years.

How long did the Kuwaiti citizens have to wait for these elections?

A:

Four years, as promised.  A new National Assembly started work in 1981.


Q143:

Name a European country which, when it first tried its hands at democracy, suffered from a constitution which allowed too many splinter parties and which became virtually ungovernable because the parties in parliament could not agree.

A:

Germany, under the 'Weimar constitution', before Hitler came to power in 1933.


Q144:

The Kuwait National Assembly was dissolved for a second time in 1986.  This was, at least partly, caused by events emanating from another country.  Which was the country?

A:

Iran.


Q145:

A few years earlier one ruler in Iran was ousted and another took his place.  Name the people concerned and give the year.

A:

In 1979, the Shah of Iran was ousted and the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power.


Q146:

In the same year, Iraq's president was pushed aside by a much younger man.  Who was the new president?

A:

Saddam Hussein.


Q147:

Soon after, war broke out between Iraq and Iran.  When did this happen.

A:

In 1980, one year after the Ayatollah Khomeini and Saddam Hussein had assumed the highest office in their countries.


Q148:

It is very easy to remember the starting date, the duration and the finishing date of the Iran-Iraq war, since they are all associated with one digit.  Explain.

A:

The digit is 8.  The war started in 1980, it lasted for eight years and ended on 8 August 1988 (i.e. 8.8.88).


Q149:

Kuwait did not participate in the Iran-Iraq war but it generously supported one side.  Which?

A:

Kuwait supported Iraq.


Q150:

What has Kuwait's support for Iraq to do with the second

suspension of the constitution?

A:

As from 1983 there were many terrorist incidents in Kuwait, pipelines were blown up, bombs exploded in Kuwait city, a Kuwaiti aircraft was hijacked to Teheran, and Iranian troops occupied the Faw peninsula near the Kuwait border.

The cabinet was strongly attacked in parliament and eventually resigned, saying that it was unable to govern.  This led to the second suspension of the constitution and the National Assembly.


Q151:

Name the two main political parties of Kuwait.

A:

There are none.  Kuwaiti law prohibits political parties.


Q152:

Who has the highest judicial authority?

A:

The High Court of Appeal.


Q153:

Does Islamic religious law have a function in Kuwait?

A:

Yes, it governs matters of civil and personal status law.


Q154:

What does the social-welfare system provide for needy Kuwaitis?

A:

Financial assistance and comfortable housing.


Q155:

What does the social-welfare system provide for all employed citizens?

A:

Benefits for

-    work injury

-    old age

-    disability


Q156:

In Kuwait's social welfare system, how does medical care for Kuwaiti citizens differ from that for foreign residents?

A:

Medical care at low cost is provided for all residents, regardless of nationality.


Q157:

Is there a shortage of doctors in Kuwait?

A:

No, Kuwait has a high ratio of doctors per capita.


Q158:

Life expectancy in Kuwait is high by the standards of the region.  What is the life expectancy for men?

A:

68 years.


Q159:

What is the life expectancy for women?

A:

73 years.


Q160:

There is one serious problem in relation to life expectancy. What is it?

A:

Relatively high infant mortality.


Q161:

In Kuwait's education system, how does provision for Kuwaiti citizens differ from that for foreign residents?

A:

Education for native Kuwaitis (but not for foreigners) at all school levels is free.


Q162:

Is education compulsory?

A:

It is compulsory for native Kuwaitis between the ages of 6 and 14 years. 


Q163:

Where do non-Kuwaiti students study?

A:

They attend government schools as space permits or attend private schools. 


Q164:

What is the literacy rate (percentage) among adults (Kuwaitis and foreigners) in Kuwait?

A:

More than 75%.


Q165:

How many institutions of higher learning are there in Kuwait?

A:

Only Kuwait University.


Q166:

When was Kuwait University founded?

A:

In 1962.


Q167:

How many students are there at Kuwait University?

A:

17,000 students.


Q168:

How many graduates of Kuwait University are women?

A:

More than 50%.


Q169:

Who owns the Kuwait press?

A:

It is privately owned.


Q170:

How many newspapers were there in Kuwait before the invasion?

A:

-    Seven dailies (5 Arabic, 2 English)

-    Six weeklies

(Note: This is a large number for such a small population.)


Q171:

How much press censorship is there?

A:

The press is generally free from censorship.


Q172:

There are some limitations to the freedom of the press.  The Council of Ministers has the right to suspend newspapers for certain acts.  Which?

A:

Newspapers can be suspended if they criticise

-    the Emir

-    or the Kuwaiti economy.


Q173:

There is a Ministry of Information.  What does it do in relation to the media?

A:

It runs

-    the government press

-    and the radio and television broadcasting stations.


Q174:

Is the Kuwaiti system of government universally acknowledged as being ideal in every respect?

A:

No, there is an opposition which is pressing for the revival of the constitution and for more democracy.


Q175:

What is the name for the pilgrimage to Mecca, which every Muslim must undertake at least once in his life?

A:

The Hajj.


Q176:

In which country is Mecca situated?

A:

In Saudi Arabia.


Q177:

Kuwait borders on Saudi Arabia.  What is its function for some of the pilgrims bound for Mecca?

A:

It serves as a transit point.


Q178:

Where does Kuwait provide for the welfare of pilgrims on the Hajj?

A:

In a place called "Pilgrim's City".


Q179:

What does Kuwait's Pilgrim's City offer the pilgrims?

A:

-    Board

-    Lodging

-    Essential services


Q180:

Mention some traditional and modern sports and entertainments found and practised in Kuwait.

A:

-    Desert hunting

-    Camel racing

-    Football

-    Sailing

-    Theatre

-    'Opera and ballet' (Kuwaiti themes)



7.     History

7.1     Early history

Q181:

Where have most archaeological remains of Kuwait's history been found?

A:

On Faylakah Island.


Q182:

Where is Faylakah Island situated?

A:

In Kuwait Bay.


Q183:

Ancient Kuwait was part of an early civilization which was contemporary with two other well-known civilisations.

Name these two civilisations.

A:

-    The civilisation of Sumeria

-    The Indus Valley civilisation


Q184:

Give an approximate date (in thousands of years) for the Sumerian and Indus Valley civilisations, and hence for the early Kuwaiti civilisation.

A:

3000 B.C.


Q185:

Where did the Sumerians live?

A:

In the area later known as Mesopotamia and now as Iraq, i.e. in an area adjacent to present-day Kuwait.


Q186:

Faylakah Island had close trading connections in two directions.  Describe them.

A:

-    The cities of Mesopotamia (north)

-    The trading centre of Dilmun (south)


Q187:

Which modern location is thought to be identical with Dilmun?

A:

Bahrain.


Q188:

When did Faylakah Island disappear from the historical record?

A:

About 1200 B.C.


Q189:

Who were the first European colonists to arrive on Faylakah Island?

A:

Greeks.


Q190:

What did the Greeks build on Faylakah Island?

A:

A temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis.


Q191:

During whose time did the Greek colonists arrive?

A:

During the time of Alexander the Great.


Q192:

When did Alexander the Great die?

A:

In 323 B.C.


Q193:

Which Arabic country did Alexander the Great conquer in 331 B.C.?

A:

Egypt.


Q194:

Which Egyptian city is named after Alexander the Great?

A:

Alexandria.


Q195:

Did the territory of present-day Kuwait ever belong to Alexander's empire?

A:

It seems so.  Mesopotamia (now Iraq) was part of Alexander's empire.  Alexander returned from India by land along the coast of Persia and his fleet followed the same coast to the mouth of the River Euphrates (Iraq).  This was close to Kuwait.  After the breakup of Alexander's empire, Faylakah Island passed to its successor in that region.


Q196:

After the death of Alexander the Great, his empire broke up into four parts.  Name them.

A:

1    The empire of Seleucus (one of Alexander's generals)

2    The empire of Ptolemy

3    The empire of Cassander

4    The empire of Lysimachus


Q197:

Give an indication of the location of the empire of Seleucus.

A:

His empire contained Persia, Mesopotamia, Syria and a piece of Asia Minor.


Q198:

Give an indication of the location of the empire of Ptolemy.

A:

His empire contained Egypt, present-day Palestine, Cyprus and a piece of Asia Minor.


Q199:

Give an indication of the location of the empire of Cassander.

A:

His empire contained Greece and Macedonia.


Q200:

Give an indication of the location of the empire of Lysimachus.

A:

His empire contained parts of what is today Bulgaria and Turkey.


Q201:

When did Faylakah Island become less important.

A:

During Roman times.

7.2     Foundation of modern Kuwait

Q202:

A tribe of central Arabia (west of Kuwait) came to the area and founded Kuwait City.  What was the name of that tribe?

A:

The Anizah tribe.


Q203:

When approximately did the Anizah tribe found Kuwait City?

A:

At the beginning of the 18th century.


Q204:

Why did the Anizah tribe come to the Kuwait area?

A:

They were in search for better pasture and water.


Q205:

In which year was Kuwait City founded, as the date is traditionally given?

A:

1710


Q206:

When was the autonomous sheikhdom of Kuwait founded?

A:

In 1756.


Q207:

A famous composer was born in 1756.  He wrote an opera about the attempt of an Englishman to rescue his wife from a Turkish harem and a piano sonata with mock-Turkish music ('A la Turca').  What was the composer's name and the opera with the Turkish plot?

A:

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Opera:    Die Entführung aus dem Serail (= Rescue from the Harem), known in English as 'The Seraglio' (= Harem). First performed in 1782.


Q208:

Who became Sheikh of Kuwait in 1756?

A:

Abd Rahim of the Al Sabah family.


Q209:

Which family rules Kuwait today (1991)?

A:

Still the same family, the Sabah family.

7.3     The Berlin-Baghdad Railway

Q210:

When did European powers start taking an interest in Kuwait?

A:

In the late 19th century.


Q211:

Which European project affected Kuwait?

A:

The building of the Berlin-Baghdad railway.


Q212:

What has the Berlin-Baghdad railway to do with Kuwait?

A:

The Berlin-Baghdad railway was to be extended to Kuwait.


Q213:

The projected Berlin-Kuwait railway would have been a competitor to another feat of 19th century transport engineering.  Which?

A:

The Suez Canal.


Q214:

When was the Suez Canal completed?

A:

In 1869.


Q215:

When did Germany (the Deutsche Bank, to be more precise) take its first steps on the way towards the Berlin-Baghdad railway?

A:

In 1888, when the Deutsche Bank was granted a concession to extend the existing line to Ankara.  This extension was completed in 1896.


Q216:

Who controlled the Suez Canal at that time (1896)?

A:

Great Britain.


Q217:

Was Great Britain at that time worried about the German project?

A:

No.


Q218:

Which two countries were jointly responsible for the Baghdad railway project?

A:

Germany and the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire.


Q219:

What was the economic significance of the proposed railway extension?  Give four alternative formulations of the same point.

A:

1    It would have connected the North Sea (or the Baltic) by land with the Persian Gulf, and thence by ship to India and the Far East.

2    It would have connected the Mediterranean Sea by land with the Persian Gulf.

3    Its function would have been similar that of the Suez Canal, i.e. cutting out the long sea route round Africa.

4    'It threatened the monopoly previously held by the sea route between Europe, the middle east and India.'


Q220:

In 1890 (i.e. exactly a hundred years before Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait), a German team arrived in Kuwait.  Who were the members of that team?

A:

-    The German Consul-General at Constantinople (capital of the Turkish Empire)

-    Railway engineers

-    The German military attache at Constantinople


Q221:

What did the German team do?

A:

-    They carried out a survey of the route to be traversed by the Baghdad railway to the Persian gulf.

-    They visited the Sheikh of Kuwait and asked if they could buy a site for the terminus of the Baghdad railway and lease a larger area around it.


Q222:

Did the Sheikh grant their request?

A:

No.  This would have been a breach of his treaty with Britain.


Q223:

What was Germany's next move?

A:

They incited their ally, Turkey, to seize Kuwait.


Q224:

Was Sheikh Mubarak strong enough to resist a Turkish attack?

A:

No, he had just been defeated by Najd (now Saudi Arabia). (See Question 262 below.)


Q225:

What did the Turks do?

A:

They sent a warship with troops into Kuwait Bay.


Q226:

How were the Turks received in Kuwait?

A:

A British cruiser had arrived before them and threatened to open fire on the Turkish ship if the Turks tried to land.


Q227:

There were two further attempts by Germany to obtain greater influence in Kuwait.  Which was the first?

A:

Sheikh Mubarak's nephews tried to seize Kuwait City by armed force.  Under German influence the Turks connived at this attempt.


Q228:

Were Sheikh Mubarak's nephews successful?

A:

No, British ships came to the Sheikh's aid.


Q229:

Which was the second attempt of Germany to realise the railway scheme with Turkish help?

A:

In 1902 Turkey established military posts at Umm Qasr and on Bubiyan island in order to enable Germany to build the terminal in or near Umm Qasr.


Q230:

Was the plan successful?

A:

No, the British prevented it.


Q231:

Was present-day Iraq (and its capital Baghdad) an independent country at the end of the 19th century?

A:

It was part of the Ottoman Empire.


Q232:

Was Kuwait ever part of the Ottoman Empire?

A:

Only in a vague sense.  In practice, the Ottomans never exercised close control over it.


Q233:

Describe the relations between Kuwait and the Turkish Empire in the first half of the 19th century?

A:

'In those days Kuwait, like other small States on the fringes of the then far-flung Turkish Empire, often paid only nominal allegiance to the Sultan.  The Sheikh sometimes recognized Turkish suzerainty by the payment of tribute, but there were times when these payments were discontinued and independence was almost complete' (Lockart, p 266).


Q234:

At one time, Kuwait received a visit from the Governor of one of the Turkish provinces.  What was his name, and where did he rule?

A:

He was Midhat Pasha, the Governor of Baghdad.


Q235:

When did Midhat Pasha visit Kuwait?

A:

In 1871.


Q236:

What was the purpose of Midhat Pasha's visit to Kuwait?

A:

He was on his way to Najd under the pretext of assisting an opponent of the Saud family (ancestors of the famous King Ibn Saud).  In fact he wanted to extend the Sultan's authority in Arabia.


Q237:

What is Najd?

A:

A large territory, forming the eastern part of the Arab peninsula (now Saudi Arabia).


Q238:

Did Kuwait try to prevent Midhat Pasha's military expedition into Najd?

A:

No, Kuwait let Midhat Pasha's tribal supporters pass through its territory and supplied 300 boats to transport his regular forces.


Q239:

Midhat Pasha conferred a title on the Sheikh of Kuwait.  What was that title?

A:

Qaim-Maqam (Deputy Governor) of Kuwait.


Q240:

In what relation did that put the Sheikh to the Governor?

A:

It made the Sheikh Deputy to the Governor of Baghdad.


Q241:

What did the acceptance of this title mean in respect of Kuwait's relations to the Ottoman Empire?

A:

It constituted the Sheikh's acknowledgement of Turkish suzerainty.


Q242:

Did Turkey exercise its nominal authority in the Persian Gulf.

A:

No, it remained as nebulous as before.


Q243:

In 1896 a new ruler came to power in Kuwait.  What was his name?

A:

Sheikh Mubarak.


Q244:

Sheikh Mubarak took measures to raise revenue for the state by imposing a customs duty on all goods entering his state.  Was this duty also imposed on goods coming from Turkish ports?

A:

Yes.


Q245:

Why does it matter whether or not goods from Turkish ports were subject to customs duty?

A:

This duty implied that Kuwait was not part of the Turkish empire.


Q246:

Sheikh Mubarak made an unwise move which endangered Kuwait's independence such as it was.  What did he do?

A:

Like his grandfather, he accepted the office of Qaim-Maqam from the Turkish government.


Q247:

When did Sheikh Mubarak accept the office of Qaim-Maqam?

A:

In 1897.


Q248:

Sheikh Mubarak soon had cause to regret his acceptance of the Turkish title.  Why?

A:

The Turks sent a quarantine inspector to Kuwait and showed other signs of firmly establishing their authority there.


Q249:

How did Sheikh Mubarak try to protect himself against complete absorption into Turkey?

A:

He asked for British protection.


Q250:

Did the British give him that protection.

A:

No, they urged him to remain under Turkish suzerainty.  A year later, they refused a second request for protection. 


Q251:

Eventually, the British changed their mind.  Why?

A:

They feared Russian intrusion.


Q252:

What had the Russians done to arouse that fear?

A:

The Russian Count Kapnist tried to obtain a concession for a railway line from the Mediterranean coast to Kuwait.  It was rumoured that Russia wanted to use Kuwait as a coaling station.


Q253:

What is a coaling station?

A:

A port where steamships can pick up fuel.  (Aden was a famous coaling station on the route to India.)


Q254:

When did Count Kapnist make his proposal?

A:

In 1898.


Q255:

Fear of Russian intrusion resulted in a treaty between Britain and Kuwait.  When was that treaty concluded?

A:

In 1899.


Q256:

What did the ruler of Kuwait promise in that treaty?

A:

Never to cede or lease any portion of his territory to any foreign government or national except with the express authorization of the British Government.


Q257:

What did the British promise in return?

A:

To protect Kuwait in case of need.


Q258:

A few years before the outbreak of the First World War, Great Britain and Turkey began a series of negotiations which resulted (in July 1913) in the conclusion of a convention which included three points relevant to Kuwait.

List these points.

A:

1    Turkey recognised Great Britain's special relationship with Kuwait.

2    The territories of the Sheikh, although nominally forming part of the province of Baghdad, were to be autonomous.

3    Turkey would not extend the Baghdad railway to the south of Basra without first obtaining Great Britain's consent.


Q259:

When was this agreement ratified?

A:

Never.  The outbreak of war between Great Britain and Turkey in 1914 prevented ratification.


Q260:

How did the entry of Turkey into the First World War (September 1914) affect Kuwait?

A:

Britain established a protectorate over Kuwait.

7.4     Kuwait and Saudi-Arabia

Q261:

Were Kuwait's relations with its neighbour on the Arab peninsula always peaceful?

A:

No.  They were often cordial but, like the other small sheikdoms on the coast of the Arabian peninsula, Kuwait always had to be wary not to be swallowed up by its large neighbour.  This was often only possible because of British protection for these sheikdoms.  Kuwait's rulers always had to perform precarious balancing acts in their alliances.


Q262:

What was the name of the neighbouring state at the beginning of this century?

A:

Najd.


Q263:

What is the name of the neighbouring state today?

A:

Saudi Arabia.


Q264:

When did Saudi Arabia come into being?

A:

In 1932.


Q265:

What are the components of Saudi Arabia?

A:

Saudi Arabia resulted from the union, in 1932, of Najd and Hejaz.


Q266:

In which part of Saudi Arabia are the holy cities of Mecca and Medina?

A:

In Hejaz.


Q267:

Who was the most famous ruler of Saudi Arabia?

A:

King Ibn Saud.


Q268:

How has Ibn Saud's importance once been described?

A:

'The greatest Arab ruler since the prophet Mohammed himself'.

(Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1964, article on 'Arabia')


Q269:

When did King Ibn Saud live?

A:

From 1880 to 1953.


Q270:

At the beginning of this century there was a feud between the Saud family and a rival dynasty in northern Najd.  Who was the leader of that dynasty?

A:

Mohammed ibn Rashid.


Q271:

What was King Ibn Saud's (short) name?

A:

Abdul-Aziz.


Q272:

What was his father's name?

A:

Abdul-Rahman.


Q273:

The greatness of the Saudi family goes back to an alliance between an ancestor of King Ibn Saud and a religious reformer who tried to revive the pure traditions of original Islam. 

Name the Saudi ancestor and the religious reformer.

A:

-    The ancestor was Muhammad ibn Saud.

-    The religious reformer was Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab.


Q274:

When was the alliance between Muhammad ibn Saud and Abdul Wahhab forged?

A:

In 1744.


Q275:

What was the capital of the Saudi state?

A:

Riyadh.


Q276:

When did Ibn Rashid occupy the Wahhabi capital Riyadh?

A:

In 1891.


Q277:

How did Abdul-Rahman react to the occupation of his state and its capital (a situation corresponding to the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1990, almost exactly 99 years later)?

A:

He and his family went into exile, first in Bahrain and then in Kuwait.  [In 1990, the Emir of Kuwait went into exile in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)].


Q278:

How old was Abdul-Aziz (later King Ibn Saud) when he arrived in Kuwait?

A:

11 years or slightly older.  In effect, King Ibn Saud grew up in Kuwait.


Q279:

What were the relations between young Abdul-Aziz and his host, Sheikh Mubarak of Kuwait.

A:

They admired each other.  Sheikh Mubarak let Abdul-Aziz participate in his business of state and groomed him for the office of government.  If some credit for the achievements of children has to be given to their parents, then Sheikh Mubarak deserves some credit for the greatness of his protegé‚ Abdul-Aziz.


Q280:

During his stay in Kuwait Abdul-Aziz was impressed by, and learnt from Sheik Mubarak, two things, which were important in his later career as a King.

Which were they?

A:

-    The efficient way in which Sheikh Mubarak ruled his country.

-    Sheikh Mubarak's friendship for Great Britain.


Q281:

In 1901 Sheikh Mubarak, during his joint campaign with Abdul-Aziz, suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Ibn Rashid, near Sarif, south-east of Hail.

Another foreign power tried to take advantage of Kuwait's weakness at that time.  What happened?

A:

The Turks tried to seize Kuwait but were stopped by the British. 

(This is the incident referred to in Questions 224-226, above.)


Q282:

Did Abdul-Aziz give up in his attempts to regain his country?

A:

No, in the same year, 1901, he made a second, dramatic and successful attempt to recapture Riyadh and firmly established himself in Najd.


Q283:

What is the parallel between the Gulf conflict of 1990/91 and the establishment of Saudi Arabia?

A:

In and before 1900, Kuwait served as a base for the Saudi dynasty when their territory had been taken over by a 'foreign' power.  Several times Kuwait equipped the Saud family in its struggle to regain power in their country.

90 years later, the Saudis did the same for the Kuwaiti dynasty.


Q284:

Sheikh Mubarak had been succeeded, in 1916, by one of his sons.  What was his name?

A:

Sheikh Salim.


Q285:

Did the good relations between Abdul-Aziz and Kuwait continue when Sheikh Salim became ruler of Kuwait in 1916.

A:

No, Abdul-Aziz became increasingly aggrieved by Sheikh Salim's actions.


Q286:

What were Abdul-Aziz's grievances?

A:

1    Sheikh Salim supported his enemy Ibn Rashid.

2    Sheikh Salim supported Turkey and allowed military supplies for the Turks to go through his port.  This was a breach of Kuwait's treaty obligations with Great Britain.

3    Sheikh Salim encouraged tribesmen in the province of Hasa to revolt against Abdul-Aziz.


Q287:

During the First World War, Russia, England and France were at war with Turkey, which was allied with Germany.

How did Great Britain respond to Sheikh Salim's actions?

A:

Great Britain blockaded Kuwait from February 1918 until the end of hostilities with Turkey.


Q288:

There was a dispute about the border between Najd and Kuwait.  The borders being unmarked, Sheikh Salim was concerned by creeping annexation of his territory and infiltration of Kuwait by Wahhabis.  He built a fort 100 miles inland to stake a claim to the territory that had always been regarded as his father's.

Kuwait's attitude annoyed Abdul-Aziz.  Moreover, Kuwait had something that Abdul-Aziz badly wanted.

What was it?

A:

Excellent port facilities, in a strategic position.


Q289:

How did Abdul-Aziz try to resolve the problem?

A:

He let his armies march against Kuwait.


Q290:

When did Abdul-Aziz attack Kuwait?

A:

In 1919.


Q291:

Was Kuwait able to defend itself?

A:

No, Kuwait had no seizable army of its own.


Q292:

What did Sheikh Salim do to defend himself as best he could?

A:

The Kuwaitis built a mud wall to protect the city and sent a small force against the army of Abdul-Aziz.  (The mud wall was demolished in 1957.)


Q293:

Where did the Kuwaiti force meet the Saudi army?

A:

Near the village of Jahara, twenty miles west of Kuwait City.


Q294:

What was the outcome of the battle of Jahara?

A:

-    The Kuwaitis were beaten.

-    A short truce was arranged.


Q295:

What did the two opponents do during that truce?

A:

-    Abdul-Aziz prepared his men for the occupation of Kuwait.

-    Sheikh Salim formally invited Great Britain to defend his country.


Q296:

Did Abdul-Aziz (like Saddam Hussein in 1991) try to face Great Britain in battle?

A:

No.  On October 24, 1920, Abdul-Aziz withdrew his forces.  He was more realistic than Saddam Hussein and did not want to fight with lances and rifles against superior western technology (planes and big guns).


Q297:

The British convened a conference to settle border questions.  Britain, Kuwait, Iraq and Najd (later Saudi Arabia) were represented.  The chairman was Sir Percy Cox,  British High Commissioner in Baghdad.

Where was that conference held?

A:

At Uqair.


Q298:

Where is Uqair?

A:

In Saudi Arabia (near Bahrain, south of Kuwait).


Q299:

When was the Uqair convention signed?

A:

In 1922.


Q300:

On the map of Kuwait, you can see a neutral zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.  What is its significance?

A:

The neutral zone contains the territory on which Kuwait and Saudi Arabia could not agree.  It was given by the British to Saudi Arabia to compensate Ibn Saud for territory he was forced to cede to Iraq.


Q301:

What are the rights of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in the neutral zone?

A:

It was agreed in the Uqair convention, that both states should have equal rights in that zone.


Q302:

Why do Arabs historically seem to have so little respect for national territories and their boundaries, and how is it possible that there are so many disputes about them?  Give three related arguments.

A:

-    Their tradition is that of nomads.

-    Boundaries are difficult to mark or to defend in the desert.

-    Before the discovery of oil, there were no fixed assets in the desert.

What mattered was not, as today, the physical possession (= 'sitting on') a piece of land.

What mattered was

+    the allegiance of people (which could change easily) and

+    the right to pass through a territory.

Note:

'... until this century the territory which now comprises Saudi Arabia was a disunited land of small kingdoms, imperial spheres of influences and warring tribes, where boundaries and allegiances shifted as swiftly and erratically as the desert sands.'  (Almana, p 21)

The frontiers of Great Britain have been historically well defined because it is an island.  By contrast, the frontiers of, say, Poland, Germany and France have been much more mobile, even though these countries are not populated by nomads and there are many natural demarcation lines.  The stable frontiers of Great Britain and the invisible frontiers in the Arabian desert constitute two extremes on a scale of stability and instability.

To understand what happened in the desert we must understand how the desert differs from our home countries.  After the United Nations sanctioned the use of force against Iraq, Thomas R Pickering, the US ambassador to the United Nations said: 'We have drawn a firm line in the sand.'  A sympathetic Arab diplomat mused: 'Fine.  Now let us pray we can control the winds'  (Miller and Mylroie, p xv).

Saddam Hussein behaved in respect of Kuwait, as if there were no fixed assets and as if physical possession was still a trivial (and therefore negotiable or changeable) matter.  Kuwait in 1990 is not the desert in 1900.


Q303:

Who succeeded Sheikh Salim as ruler of Kuwait and when?

A:

His nephew succeeded him in 1921 and became Sheikh Ahmad.


Q304:

Who is the present Emir of Kuwait?

A:

Sheikh Jaber al-Sabah.


Q305:

When did Sheikh Jaber al-Sabah come to power?

A:

In 1977.

Note: List of the immediate predecessors of the present Emir:

Sheikh Mubarak 1896-1915

Sheikh Salim  1916-1921

Sheikh Ahmad  1921-1950

Sheikh Abdullah    1950-1965

Sheikh Sabah Salem 1965-1977

8.     Oil

Q306:

Which countries were setting an example for Kuwait in the exploitation of their oil resources?

A:

Iran and Bahrein.


Q307:

When was the Kuwait Oil Company founded?

A:

In 1934.


Q308:

Who were the owners of the Kuwait Oil Company?

A:

-    The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company of Great Britain

-    The Gulf Oil Corporation of the United States


Q309:

What is the territory covered by the Kuwait Oil Company concession of 1934?

A:

The whole of Kuwait's territory.


Q310:

What is the duration of the concession?

A:

75 years, starting in 1934.


Q311:

When did drilling operations in Kuwait begin?

A:

In 1949.

9.     Kuwait and Iraq

Q312:

When was the northern frontier between Kuwait and Iraq agreed upon?

A:

In 1923.


Q313:

Which Iraqi leader first advocated total absorption of Kuwait into Iraq and when?

A:

Young King Ghazi in 1937.


Q314:

When did the British Government give full independence to Kuwait?

A:

In June 1961.


Q315:

How did Iraq react?

A:

Iraq claimed that all of Kuwait belonged to Iraq.


Q316:

What was the British response?

A:

The British sent troops to defend Kuwait.


Q317:

Did Iraq maintain its claim to Kuwait?

A:

No, Iraq dropped its claim when the Arab League recognized Kuwait's independence on July 20, 1961.


Q318:

Who was in charge of Iraq in 1961?

A:

General Qassim.


Q319:

Did Iraq ever formally recognise Kuwait's independence?

A:

Yes, in 1963 when the Baath party under Qassim was in power in Iraq.  Kuwait had to pay a substantial sum in exchange for this settlement, which included an agreement about all border disputes.


Q320:

Two more agreements between Iraq and Kuwait were signed in 1963.  What were they?

A:

-    Iraq agreed to supply Kuwait with 120 million gallons of water per day from the Shatt-al-Arab.

-    Customs duties on trade between Iraq and Kuwait were virtually abolished.


Q321:

In 1973, there was a military incident between Iraq and Kuwait?  What was it?

A:

Iraqi troops occupied Al-Samitah, a border post in northeastern Kuwait.


Q322:

What was the dispute about?

A:

The Kuwaiti islands of Bubiyan and Warbah. 


Q323:

Why are these islands important for Iraq?

A:

They control access to Umm Qasr, Iraq's military port.


Q324:

Kuwait has been described as anachronistic, while Iraq has been described as progressive.  Give a quote which summarises the deceptive appearances of the two countries.

A:

'On paper, Iraq was the more "progressive" of the two societies - socialist and secular.  Kuwait, by contrast, was the feudal monarchy, a religious state in which alcohol and other Western vices were supposedly taboo, and whose women could not vote. In practice, however, Iraq ruled mainly through arbitrary terror and intimidation; Kuwait, by contrast, was relatively open and tolerant, a place where authorities tended to wink at regulations, or look the other way when it pleased them.' (Miller and Mylroie, p 200).


Q325:

When did the war between Iran and Iraq start?

A:

In 1980.


Q326:

Which side did Kuwait take during the Iran-Iraq war?

A:

-    Kuwait gave considerable financial assistance to Iraq.

-    Kuwait was a supply route for civilian and military imports into Iraq.


Q327:

Why did Kuwait support Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war?

A:

-    Kuwait was afraid of Iran's attempt to export its fundamentalist shiite Islamic revolution.

-    55% of Iraq's population is shiite.  The Kuwaitis are mainly sunnis.

-    If Iran had overrun southern Iraq, it would have become Kuwait's neighbour.  Even the present border of Iran is only a few miles from Kuwait's eastern border.


Q328:

Did Kuwait suffer during the Iran-Iraq war?

A:

-    As from 1983, there were Iran inspired terrorist attacks inside Kuwait.

-    In 1984, a Kuwaiti Airways plane was hijacked to Teheran.

-    There were more terrorist attacks and more hijackings in later years.

-    At the same time, Kuwait suffered from falling oil prices.


Q329:

How did the Emir of Kuwait respond to the precarious situation in his country?

A:

He suspended parliament and the constitution.


Q330:

What is Iraq's greatest geographical disadvantage?

A:

Like Austria or Afghanistan, it is almost completely landlocked, i.e. it has hardly any access to the open sea.


Q331:

How long is Iraq's coastline?

A:

26 miles.


Q332:

What is the name of Iraq's only significant commercial port?

A:

Basra.


Q333:

How far is Basra from the open sea?

A:

50 miles.


Q334:

What connects Basra to the open sea?

A:

The Shatt-al-Arab.


Q335:

Which rivers meet at Basra to form the Shatt-al-Arab?

A:

The rivers Euphrates and Tigris.


Q336:

Why could Iraq not use the Shatt-al-Arab during the Iran-Iraq war?

A:

After a few days it had become blocked by damaged ships and war debris.


Q337:

Does Iraq have a navy?

A:

Yes, but it is very small.


Q338:

What is the name of Iraq's military port?

A:

Umm Qasr?  (See Questions 229 and 323 above.)


Q339:

Where was Iraq's navy at the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war?

A:

In the Khor Abdullah.


Q340:

What is the Khor Abdullah?

A:

A small channel that forms part of the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border.


Q341:

In which respects was Iraq frustrated by Kuwait during the Iran-Iraq war?

A:

Kuwait did not allow Iraq to use a channel leading south between the Kuwaiti islands of Warba and Bubiyan.


Q342:

Why did Kuwait not allow Iraqi ships to pass between Warba and Bubiyan?

A:

Kuwait was afraid of the Iranian response.


Q343:

During the Iran-Iraq war, Iraq had to export its oil, its  only source of income.  How did Iraq get the oil out of its country?

A:

By pipeline: first across Turkey and Syria, later also through Saudi Arabia.


Q344:

How did Iraq receive its imports?

A:

Via Jordan, Kuwait and Turkey.


Q345:

What lessons did Iraq learn from this situation?

A:

That is was totally dependent on its neighbours for handling its exports and imports and therefore very vulnerable.


Q346:

In 1986 a new development occurred in the Iran-Iraq war.  What was it?

A:

The Iranians began to attack Kuwaiti oil tankers because Kuwait was an ally of Iraq.


Q347:

How did the Kuwaitis try to protect themselves?

A:

They asked the USA for help.


Q348:

Did the USA respond positively?

A:

No.


Q349:

What was Kuwait's next move?

A:

Kuwait obtained a promise of help from the USSR.


Q350:

Did the USA like the prospect of the USSR becoming involved in the Gulf?

A:

No.  They therefore overcame their earlier reluctance and allowed Kuwaiti ships to be re-registered as US ships and fly the American flag and sent out ships to escort and protect the Kuwaiti ships sailing under the US flag.


Q351:

How large was Iraq's international debt at the end of the Iran-Iraq war?

A:

$70 billion.


Q352:

How much of this money did Iraq owe to its ally Kuwait?

A:

More than $10 billion.


Q353:

When did the Iran-Iraq war end?

A:

With Iraq's acceptance of a cease-fire on the 8.8.88 (8 August 1988).


Q354:

Iraq had several grievances and demands, which later served as a pretext or excuse for its invasion of Kuwait.  Which were they?

A:

1    Iraq wanted Kuwait to cancel its war debts of over $10 billion.

2    Iraq wanted an additional $27 billion from Kuwait.

3    Iraq wanted Kuwait to reduce its oil production in order to increase the price of oil on the world market.

4    Iraq accused Kuwait of stealing Iraqi oil from the Rumaila oil field.  Most of the Rumaila oil field is in Iraq.  Iraq accused Kuwait of lifting, from its small section of the oil field, more than its fair share.

5    Iraq wanted the islands of Warba and Bubiyan.


Q355:

What were probably the real reasons for Iraq's invasion of Kuwait?  Name the two most obvious ones.

A:

-    Iraq wanted Kuwait's riches (oil, money, investments).

-    Iraq wanted free access to the Persian Gulf to escape from its landlocked position.



10.     Bibliography:

Sources of information and further reading

Aeschylus: 'The Plays of Aeschylus' translated by Robert Potter.  Routledge, London, 1892

Almana, Mohammed 1980: 'Arabia Unified.  A portrait of Ibn Saud.'  Hutchinson Benham, London

Buchanan, Harvey 1956: 'Luther and the Turks 1519-1529'.  In: Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte, Vol 47, p 145-160.  Bertelsmann Verlag, Gütersloh, Germany

Bury, J B 1900: 'History of Greece to the death of Alexander the Great'.  Macmillan, London

Cubberly Van Pelt, Mary: 'The Sheikhdom of Kuwait'.  In: Middle East Journal, Vol 4, 1950, p 12-26

Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1964 and 1989 editions (state before Iraqi invasion of Kuwait)

Fischer-Galati, Stephen A: 'Ottoman imperialism and the religious peace of Nürnberg (1532).'  In: Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte, Vol 47, p 160-180.  Bertelsmann Verlag, Gütersloh, Germany

Kennedy, Gavin  1982: 'Everything is negotiable!'  Business Books, London

Kinross, Lord 1977: 'The Ottoman centuries.  The rise and fall of the Turkish empire.'  Jonathan Cape, London

Koch, E E 1866: 'Geschichte des Kirchenliedes' (History of the hymn).  Stuttgart

Köhler, Rudolf 1965: 'Die biblischen Quellen der Lieder' (The biblical sources of the hymns).  This is Vol 1, Part 2, of 'Handbuch zum Evangelischen Kirchengesangbuch' (Manual for the Protestant Hymn Book) (ed Mahrenholz and Söhngen).  Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, Germany (p 245 deals with 'Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort')

Lacey, Robert 1982: 'The kingdom'.  Fontana Paperbacks/ Collins, London (original edition: Hutchinson, London, 1981). (This is an extremely readable history of Saudi Arabia.)

Lockhart, Laurence: 'Outline of the history of Kuwait'.  In: Journal of the Royal Asian Society, Vol 34, 1947, p 262-274

Lucke, W 1923: 'Die Lieder Luthers' (Luther's hymns).  In: D Martin Luthers Werke.  Weimar 1923. Vol 35  (Contains detailed discussion of the origins of 'Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort' (p 235-248) and 'Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich'  (p 232-235))

Luther, Martin 1528: 'Vom Kriege wider die Türken' (About fighting the Turks).  In: D Martin Luthers Werke.  Weimar 1909. Vol 30.2

Mansfield, Peter: 'Kuwait. Vanguard of the gulf.'  Hutchinson, London, 1990

Miller, Judith, and Laurie Mylroie 1990: 'Saddam Husein and the crisis in the gulf'.  Times Books, Random House, New York

Palumbo, Michael 1987: 'The Palestinian catastrophe.  The 1948 expulsion of a people from their homeland.'  Faber & Faber, London

Thucydides: 'History of the Peloponnesian war'.  Translated by Rex Warner.  Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, Mdx, England 1972

Tillich, Paul  1972: 'Gesammelte Werke' (Collected works).  Vol 13.  Stuttgart

Veit, P 1986: 'Das Kirchenlied in der Reformation Luthers' (Hymns in Luther's reformation).  Stuttgart, Germany

Winder, R Bayly 1965: 'Saudi Arabia in the nineteenth century'. Macmillan, London 

© 1991 Klaus Bung

Klaus Bung: Kuwait History Quiz
E-mail: klaus.bung@tudo.co.uk
Length: 12,000 words = 57,000 characters
Related essay: Klaus Bung: The 1990 Gulf War in Perspective.