Campaign to fight favouritism launched in Kuwait

August 31, 2012

A campaign that aims to end wasta (nepotism and favouritism) has been launched in Kuwait.

“The phenomenon of the wasta influence is strongly rejected by a large segment of the Kuwaiti society as a social illness that undermines the values of equality and social justice,” Thamer Ali Al Sana’a, a lawyer activist, said.

“As it is now plaguing several sectors, there is a critical need to eradicate it. If wasta is used to get legal rights or to ease complex procedures, then there is a problem with the state apparatus, and if it is used to obtain illegal favours or to beat the system, then, it is a crime,” Al Sana’a said, quoted by local Arabic daily Al Rai on Wednesday.

“Kuwaitis Against Wasta” was launched after studies of the problems facing young people in Kuwait concluded that their major concern was wasta, he said.

“Wasta is of course not confined to Kuwait and it could be found everywhere, except in advanced countries where the rule of the law is supreme,” he said.

The campaign was initiated in social networks, mainly Facebook and Twitter, where it received tremendous support, Al Sana’a said.

“The aim is to take the issue into the open and have everyone condemn the injustice and unfairness that beleaguer people,” he said. “We call for serious social studies to explain to the people the difference between wasta and the Islamic concept of helping people in need because there is a huge difference between the two.”

The laws should also be amended to criminalise wasta and to take legal measures against those who resort to it, accept it or promote it, he said. Local columnists have condemned the effects of the wasta system.

Writing in the local Arab Times, Lidia Qattan condemned wasta as a corruption factor. “The wasta is not bad in itself; everyone needs a helping friend sometimes. However, what made the wasta in Kuwait a corrupting factor is the spreading of injustice through it, turning it into a phenomenon that did not exist in the frugal old days when everyone had to work hard for his living,” she wrote.

According to Lidia, “it was through some MPs that nepotism and favouritism began to spread as a malady that affected the nation.”

However, she insisted that “even though the lethargy caused by the incrustation of corruption through wasta is hard to overcome, the task is not impossible.”



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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