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Kuwait and see
The editor of the Gulf’s oldest daily newspaper talks about why Kuwait is a leading light for press freedom, but no flagship for democracy
January 8, 2009 9:27 by Scott MacMillan
Do you believe in Arab democracy?
I think it’s very difficult. I don’t think Western democracy works in the Arab world, because we are tribal. The problem comes back to the MPs again. They come into parliament and they have their own agendas. Some of them are there to make money, and they make money through tenders, using their influence to get these tenders to the companies that will give them money. We get a lot of evidence of things that are going on, and sometimes we hand it over to people to start questioning it, and sometimes we just have to just ignore it because you can’t really prove anything.
What is going to dominate the pages of your newspaper in 2009?
I think it will be more or less the same old stuff unless some dramatic change happens. Look at the history of Kuwait: We had the best medical system, and now we have one of the worst. Nobody trusts it. We used to have the best schools, the best university in the region. We’ve lost that now as well; most Kuwaitis would prefer to put their kids in private schools or send their kids to be educated in foreign universities or the private universities that recently opened. Kuwait TV used to be one of the best TV stations in the region; now it’s something that people only watch during Ramadan, and now that we have foreign private stations, we may have lost that as well. When you look at all this backward movement, it doesn’t make you feel satisfied. It doesn’t give you a good impression.
Will the situation be the same in five years?
It’s hard to tell, because there are so many theories about what’s going to happen in the country. Some people are saying parliament is going to be dissolved and the Emir is going to take charge. If he does that, although it might look to the rest of that world as though it doesn’t seem very democratic, I think it would be a lot better for us at this stage, because I know he has plans to improve and develop the country economically. The only scary thing about having the system running that way is that the system would be dependent on the person who’s ruling the country.
First seen in Communicate magazine
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