Many people stereotype Kuwaitis, assuming they are all multimillionaires living in villas and change their cars annually. While many Kuwaitis are well off, however, there are Kuwaitis who suffer from poverty and rely heavily on the charity they receive on a monthly basis. Hamad AlـMurray, the records officer at Bayt AlـZakat, said, “There are no foreign laborers here that cannot eat, let alone Kuwaitis,” as he explained the issue of relative poverty in Kuwait.
While food, shelter and health care are easily attainable due to the state’’s welfare system, charitable organizations also spend millions of Kuwaiti dinars each month to ensure that the basic needs of the families are taken care of.
One indicator of relative poverty being the issue in Kuwait is the recent surge of Kuwaitis requesting assistance from Bayte AlـZakat. AlـMurray indicated that “prior to Sheikh Salem AlـAli’’s 100 million Kuwaiti dinars donation to us, we received very little requests for help from Kuwaitis. Now, however, of the 700 requests for assistance we get every day, the majority of requests are from Kuwaitis.” He went on to explain that this influx in requests does not indicate that there are a growing number of poor Kuwaitis, but of the relative poverty concept. He states, “these Kuwaiti families reacted to the Sheikh’’s donation; they did not react out of their poverty.”
The slums, foreign laborers and Bedouns inhabit, can be found just past the Sulaibiya industrial area. It is an area filled with shanties ـ one storey houses made out of both bricks and the metallic frame used for garages. Due to the state’’s housing policies, it is difficult to have Kuwaitis end up living in such a place. Citizens are entitled to free housing, and while they wait for the house they can settle for an apartment which the government can pay for.
This, however, does not mean that there are no needy Kuwaitis. AlـMurray elaborates, “Households with a very limited income usually approach us for things that people in absolute poverty consider superfluous. For example, many of the requests for help we get from Kuwaitis have to do with renovating the exterior of the house to have it look better.”
Dr. Abdullah Sulaiman AlـAteeqi, the secretary general at Social Reform Society, also added that there is the issue of poor budget and risk management that leads Kuwaitis towards requesting assistance from us. He explains, “some of the people we assist cannot plan their budget. Although their income is quite average more than half of it would be gone due to the installments of things they purchase which are usually cars. Another issue is risk management; some providers place all their eggs in one basket only to drop it. This has been the case with the recent drop in prices at the Kuwaiti Stock Exchange”.
Source -Al Watan