The Kuwaiti population includes around 100,000 people - approximately 10 per cent of the Kuwaiti nationals -whose legal status is contested. Often considered `stateless', they have come to be known in Kuwait as biduns, from `bidun jinsiyya', which means literally `without nationality' in Arabic. As long-term residents with close geographical ties and intimate cultural links to the emirate, the biduns claim that they are entitled to Kuwaiti nationality because they have no other. But since 1986 the State of Kuwait, has considered them `illegal residents' on Kuwaiti territory. As a result, the biduns have been denied civil and human rights and treated as undocumented migrants, with no access to employment, health, education or official birth and death certificates. It was only after the first-ever bidun protest in 2011, that the government softened restrictions imposed upon them. Claire Beaugrand argues here that, far from being an anomaly, the position of the biduns is of central importance to the understanding of state formation processes in the Gulf countries, and the ways in which identity and the boundaries of nationality are negotiated and concretely enacted.
Claire Beaugrand is Gulf Research Fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter. She previously worked as a Gulf Senior analyst with the International Crisis Group and as a researcher at the Institut francais du Proche Orient (Ifpo). She holds a PhD in International Relations from the LSE.
Introduction Part I: Nationality in Perspective Chapter 1: Citizenship in the Arab Gulf States: Redistribution and Distinction Chapter 2: Nationality: From a Standard to a Right Part II: From State Formation to `Stateless People' Chapter 3: The Transnational Foundations of the Kuwaiti Emirate Chapter 4: The Kuwaiti Social Pact: Conceptions and Practices of Nationality Chapter 5: Turning the Al-Sabah Rule into a Constitutional State Part III: Social Integration vs. State Discrimination Chapter 6: Administrative Violence Chapter 7: Biduns' Coping Strategies Chapter 8: External Pressures and the Promotion of the Human Rights Regime Part IV: Political Economy of Naturalisation: Solving the Biduns Issue? Chapter 9: Keeping Welfare Privileges, Buying Time Chapter 10: `Give Biduns Their Human Rights' Chapter 11: Emerging Biduns' Voices? Conclusion