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.
List of Illustrations List of Acronyms Note on Transliteration Arabic Transliteration Table Foreword Acknowledgments Preface 1 From Invisibility to Stigma: Who are the Biduns? 2 The Transnational Foundations of the Kuwaiti Emirate 3 From Shanty Bedouins to Illegal Residents 4 The Manufacturing of Illegality 5 The Emerging `Cause' of the Biduns: Supports and Opponents 6 Sans papiers Mobilisation in an Oil-Monarchy ? Conclusion Appendix: Family Tree of the Al-Sabah Abridged Bibliography Index