A Paradise Lost? The Rise and Fall of the Palestinian Community in Kuwait

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The article discusses the evolution of the Palestinian community in Kuwait in the wake of the 1948 War. The demand for skilled labour facilitated the gradual integration of the Palestinians into Kuwaiti society, especially in the education system and state institutions. In this regard the article examines the role of education and students in creating personal and political socio-economic networks. The relatively liberal political atmosphere in Kuwait during its years of development transformed it into a hotbed for Palestinian political activism. This trend continued up to the 1991 Gulf War, when Yasir Arafat's support of Saddam Husayn in that wa, caused the fall from grace of the Palestinians in Kuwait. This ended the central role that the Palestinians played in the historical process of Kuwait state building. Following the death of Arafat the PLO began to seek reconciliation with Kuwait. At this timely moment in the history of relations between these two communities, the article sheds light on these efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-99
Number of pages14
JournalMiddle Eastern Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Mishal’s Islamic list threatened the hegemony of Fatah. Furthermore, the Islamic Bloc in Kuwait was morally and financially supported by the general union of Kuwaiti students. The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country signified an impending global challenge to the nationalist current which had thus far dominated the GUPS.45

Funding Information:
A changing of the guard within the PLO and the rise of political Islam in Kuwait further enhanced relations between the leadership of the emirate and the pragmatic camp of the PLO headed by Abbas. Hamas, which had enjoyed substantial financial support from Kuwait, was increasingly portrayed as a proxy of Shiite Iran. Furthermore, as the Islamic political bloc in Kuwait continued to gather strength, it did not withhold criticism of the monarchy and its positions on the Palestinian cause. These developments, together with Kuwait’s commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative and dependency upon American military patronage, further encouraged the renewal of the emirate’s strategic alliance with PLO.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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