The Issue of Citizenship for the Bidun Minority in Kuwait after the Arab Spring

Ronen A. Cohen, Yael Keinan-Cohen

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2 Scopus citations


Kuwait is a country in which there are many tribes but it is the al-U'zam tribe which is very dominant and influential in local politics and the economy, in contrast to the other tribes in Kuwait who are recognized by the state as being equal, but have little influence in these things. The Bedouin tribes, such as the Bidun society in Kuwait, who have been excluded from nationality and citizenship and thus have no influence, are an exception. The Kuwaiti government claims that the Bidun themselves gave up these rights so as not to be part of the Kuwaiti state and this has resulted in the Kuwaiti government not granting them any formal economic, political, or social rights. Because of this, the Bidun have had to fight for their rights for decades since the formal establishment of an independent Kuwait in 1961. This article wishes to discuss whether the question of the Kuwaiti refusal to recognize the Bidun as citizens is because of geostrategic reasons, because of the fear of creating a precedent that might lead to the inclusion of other tribes into the Kuwaiti state, or because this is a traditional political strategy for dealing with politically weak tribes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-123
Number of pages17
JournalDomes : digest of Middle East studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • Arab Spring
  • Bedouin
  • Bidun
  • Kuwait
  • Middle Eastern Minorities
  • statelessness
  • tribal exclusion


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